Here in Grand Rapids, we’re hosting our annual Art Prize event, which always reminds me of this story, which occurred the first time our family attended:

We were gazing at some of the outdoor sculptures when we bumped into some old family friends, the Smiths*, whom I hadn’t seen since I was in high school.  As I was introducing my family members one by one, Cade burst into our circle with his arms flung wide, announcing, “And I’m her son, Cade!!”  (This picture was taken just moments before, so you get an idea of his mood…)

Mr. Smith is the sort of man who hinges slightly less than a quarter inch when he hugs you.  The half-smile on his face when the home team wins the championship is identical to his half-smile when the waiter dumps a cold drink down his back.  This probably relates to decades of practicing law.  It’s rather difficult to read that half smile–hard to know whether he thinks your arm-flinging son is hilarious or obnoxious.  I decided to not worry about it.

As we listened to updates on the Smiths’ kids, Cade weaved in and out of our circle, and then settled in right beside Mr. Smith.  He leaned in affectionately, and slipped his hand into Mr. Smith’s.  A few moments later, he began patting Mr. Smith’s arm with his other hand.  All the while, Mr. Smith stared straight ahead, half-smiling, looking every bit like a well dressed mannequin.  But Cade didn’t seem to notice.  He kept patting and leaning in. 

Then, Lindsay said, “Who is that, Cade?  Who are you by?”  Cade glanced up and immediately jerked his hands away.  His mouth dropped open as he stumbled backward.  He had mistaken Mr. Smith for his Daddy.  Mr. Smith just looked at him with the exact same half-smile and said nothing.  Oh, how I wanted to laugh till I cried.  But it seemed more fitting to muscle my half-smile through closing arguments-I mean goodbyes. 

Who are you leaning in on?  Check his face and make sure it’s the Father.  (You’ll know it’s Him by the whole smile.)

*Not their real name.

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