The evolutionary benefits of smiling

It’s hard to compare two children. Especially if they’re yours. And especially if they’re born only two years apart. You’re just learning one and another comes along, and their escapades blur together as children, not as two individuals.

Despite this, one thing is for certain. Sierra never smiled this much.

With Sierra, each smile needed to be coaxed, as if they were sold at a premium and she needed to make sure she got her money’s worth. She wasn’t a sad baby, or a solemn baby – she was studious and calm and centered, and she only smiled when it was deemed necessary. She wasn’t unhappy. But she was serious.

Isaac, on the other hand, doles smiles out like a politician.

I wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition – an evolutionary trait, developed millenniums ago, when parents died earlier and children were more difficult to take care of – that pushes more smiles onto a second or third child.

After all, by this point, we’re learning alongside Sierra. Everything she does is new to us, while everything Isaac does has been done before.

So he smiles. All the time. It’s infectious, and it dares – I mean “WHY ARE YOU LOOKING OVER THERE I SWEAR YOU’D BETTER RETHINK YOUR ACTIONS” dares – you to smile along, thusly shifting attention from Sierra’s newest word or book to Isaac’s inability to be upset about anything.

And with that attention captured, you’re conditioned to provide for them. Both children live, genes are passed on, evolution occurs. It would sound implausible, if it wasn’t so utterly convincing. Why else would a second child be so different in the arena of smiling?

Because, man. That kid smiles.

A lot.

This was lovingly handwritten on September 18th, 2009