And really, not the teenagers and early twenty-somethings because they smile at the boys and I all the time.
I'm talking abut other moms. Potential friends. The Knowing Smile of Mom Camaraderie does not exist here, but I'd like to teach my new potential mates (British slang, I know, but at least it's Euro.) how to win friends and influence people without saying a word.
I'm the yellow one.
Smile 1: On The Sidewalk
Despite what you may be used to, it's okay to smile at strangers you pass on the sidewalk! Your smile may convey the following messages:
"Hi! We live in the same neighborhood. It's nice to see you."
"Wow! Isn't it pretty outside today? We live in a beautiful place!"
"Awwww, look at your sweet boys. You must really have fun with them on walks."
Here's what I believe your non-smiling, non-eye-contact actions convey:
"Get off my sidewalk."
"Your children are polluting my air."
"Poland is not for you. Leave."
Smile 2: Whilst Shopping
One thing I do a lot of is shop. Groceries, toys (all the damn time it seems, but why?), random crap. I see you at all of the places I spend my time and money, and you look right through me. It stings a bit. A smile in these times would mean a lot. Especially when my kids are acting a little 'spirited'. Here's what a smile might say to me in these situations:
"I have kids too. I feel your pain."
"This would be so much easier without kids tagging along, right?"
"You should totally buy that scarf! It's so cute!"
Your current non-looks or outright scowls say:
"Get out of my store. You may shop when I leave."
"We don't have loud kids in Poland. You must be foreign."
Smile 3: Meeting The Neighbors
When Michael and I returned from our vacation, my parents informed me that a family had moved into the other apartment on our floor. Hooray! Further, we learned they have a son who is about 8 or 9 and a new baby! Who loves babies she doesn't have to wake up for? Me!!! So far, the son has smiled and said hello in return to my awesome greetings in Polish. The dad said hello once. And the mom? Utter contempt oozed from her eyes the first time I saw her. We were literally 2 feet from each other in our shared garage, and I had the boys with me. She was carrying the new baby. I smiled that loving babies smile. The boys were quiet and kept their germs away. Nothin'. I'm hoping the family was just having a bad day and did not have time to chit-chat with me. But what I really think is--they hate me and my kids. Or possibly my dad offended them while I was gone. Who knows? But, in case they ever do want to meet us, a smile says:
"Nice to meet you."
"It's good to have another family living so close."
"You aren't so bad."
So, my future Polish friends, that's the quick and easy way to meet me! Your smile in return to mine, and then I do the rest. If the situation calls for it, I'll talk to you. If not, I'll at least feel like you don't hate my very existence. Thanks in advance!