Last week I joined Spouse and some of his work pals for a Friday night get together at a local restaurant. It’s always fun to meet up with the people who work with my mate and to hear their stories about him. I like having ammunition for future reference.
The coworkers teased about working with the hubby and asked me what the secret was to keeping him in line. I had to smile when I replied, “The Look.”
It took many years of practice on two children to perfect The Look before I even attempted it with Spouse. I have to admit it wasn’t very effective when the kids were each going through the Terrible Threes but I was able to get some training in during the middle school years. I swear, if such a force could be harnessed we would have world peace.
On this particular evening the place was hopping with many tables of folks celebrating the end of the week. Next to our table was a family with several children who demonstrated better manners than some of the adults in the restaurant. One of Spouse’s coworkers mentioned how impressed he was with their behavior and I was just about to respond, when we both glanced over and found ourselves within startled range of The Look.
One of the moms from the neighboring table, eyes piercing, lips pursed, bore down on a youngster who had apparently crossed the Behavior line. He visibly froze for a moment and then proceeded to eat his dinner without a peep. On the seat across from me the questioning coworker uttered, “Whoa – I think I just witnessed ‘It’” – and suddenly sat up a little straighter on his bench.
If you are a parent, chances are you not only understand what I’m talking about, you have experienced the influence of this mysterious gift yourself. It’s not always The Look that gets the point across, though.
When I was growing up it was my dad who carried the burden of disciplining me much of the time. There was nothing like hearing, “Just wait until your father gets home,” to make me want to hide in my room. I wasn’t afraid of my dad but I hated disappointing him, which he was very aware of. The best way to make me straighten out was to give a little backward wave of his hand, let out a little “Ahh” kind of groan and turn away in frustration. Let me tell you, The Look had nothing over The Backward Wave.
My mom was a major influence on my everyday conduct and behavior, but she could never pull off the expression that would stop me in my tracks. It didn’t help that I was more like my dad and he seemed to know what I was thinking before I did. It also didn’t help that my irritatingly well-behaved sister did nothing to deflect his attention from my antics.
When our daughters were school age I would bring them to work on occasion for a visit. One day my boss remarked that he was impressed with how well behaved and respectful the girls were whenever they visited. He caught me off-guard when he continued with, “I can see why – you have The Look.” I hadn’t realized I was that good at it.
I know every parent has a way of clearly indicating their offspring should reconsider their actions or be grounded for life. If your child is too young at the moment to understand and respond to The Look, don’t despair. You’ll have plenty of time to perfect this method when they enter middle school and become proficient at their own method of communicating.