Georg’s Special Smile

by Sherrie Johnson

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    We’ve decided Georg can’t play with us anymore,” Johnny said as he stood up straight.

    “Why not?” David asked.

    “Come on, you know!” Johnny answered.

    “No, I don’t. Georg might be different from us, but that’s no reason to keep him from playing,” David defended.

    “Different? Georg is more than different. He’s stupid.”

    “He can’t understand, but he’s not stupid!” David exclaimed.

    “If you ask me, not understanding is what stupid is,” one of the other boys joined in.

    Eleven-year-old David looked helplessly at his cousin. Georg’s innocent face was one big smile as he watched David, who wanted to run and hide and never have to look at that smile again. But that was impossible.

    Georg’s parents had died, and Georg had come all the way from his home in Denmark to live with David. David looked again at Johnny and his other friends. Their faces glared from a circle around him, waiting for an answer.

    “All right, I’ll take Georg home,” David sighed.

    Angry with himself for not knowing what to do, and angry with Georg, David took hold of his cousin’s arm and started toward home.

    “No, David,” Georg said as he stood still. “Ball.”

    “Georg, you don’t understand,” David said, feeling very helpless. “The guys won’t let you play with them anymore.”

    Georg’s smile faded and his eyebrows pushed together very puzzled. Then just as suddenly he smiled again, “Yah, Davy.”

    “Georg, they don’t …” David started to explain, and then he realized that Georg wouldn’t understand anyway. “Oh, never mind. Come on!”

    David walked a little faster, thinking hard about what had happened. Why did Georg have to come live with me? Why don’t I have an ordinary cousin like everyone else? One who can speak English!

    Soon they were home. Georg went to play in the family room and David went to his room and stretched out on his bed to think some more.

    “Are you sick?” Mother asked as she came into David’s room to put away some clothes.

    “No,” David answered. “I’m just thinking about something.”

    “You certainly must be thinking hard. Can I help you?” Mother asked as she sat on the bed.

    “I don’t know.” David stared at the ceiling. “Mom, why is Georg the way he is?”

    Mother looked surprised, “What do you mean?”

    “You know. He’s—well, he’s different,” David replied.

    “How do you mean different? He’s the same size as you. As a matter of fact, he’s wearing your clothes. Georg likes the same things you do—chocolate bars and pancakes. And he gets happy or sad over the same things you do.”

    “But, Mom, he’s …” David stopped, not sure of how to say what he meant.

    “Did something happen today?” Mother asked.

    “Yes, the guys wouldn’t let Georg play because they said he isn’t smart enough.”

    “Georg is very smart. He doesn’t speak the same language we do, but he’s learning fast. Georg has other traits that make him very special, though, and you don’t need to speak the same language to understand those.”

    David looked puzzled. “But my friends don’t want Georg around, and I don’t blame them. He just doesn’t understand when we try to tell him how to do something. What am I supposed to do?”

    “I can’t tell you,” Mother advised. “That is something you have to decide for yourself.”

    Mother smiled as she stood up. “There are two things you should remember, though. First, Georg loves you very much. Second, Georg may not be able to understand yet, but he is a child of God just like you and your other friends, and Heavenly Father loves him just as He loves you.”

    Suddenly Georg ran into the room. “Come, Davy!” he cried breathlessly.

    Mother winked at David as she left the room.

    “Come, Davy,” Georg urged.

    “Oh, all right,” David said, not really wanting to go. “I’ll come.”

    Georg took hold of David’s arm as he guided him to the couch. Then he opened a book and started to read. “Vay,” he sounded out a word carefully, smiling that happy smile David knew so well.

    “Vay?” David repeated.

    “Vay.” Georg’s smile grew bigger and bigger.

    David looked at the book. “We! The word is we.”

    Georg looked disappointed, but then he smiled again. “Vee,” he said.

    David shook his head back and forth. “No, we,” he said as he turned away from his cousin and went back to his room.

    Why? Why? Why? he kept thinking as he flopped on the bed. If Georg could only understand, we could have so much fun together!

    David had been on his bed only a moment when he heard a soft knock at the door. The door opened slowly, and Georg’s blue eyes peered cautiously around the door.

    “Davy?” he asked softly.

    David didn’t answer. He didn’t even look at Georg, who walked over to the bed and sat down. Georg spoke slowly, but it was no use. David couldn’t understand. The words just didn’t mean anything to him.

    David looked at Georg. He doesn’t understand what I say, but I don’t understand him either. For the first time David began to wonder what Georg must think of him. Maybe Georg thinks I’m stupid because I don’t understand him.

    David looked at Georg again. He was still talking as if he were desperately trying to explain something. All at once David knew exactly what Georg was trying to say! He wanted to be friends. He was telling David how much he liked him. David didn’t need to understand Danish, for he could see it in Georg’s face.

    Georg had finished talking now, and he sat waiting for an answer. David felt ashamed. Then he smiled and Georg smiled back. Both boys understood without words!

    “Dinner is ready,” Mother called.

    David motioned to Georg, and they both hurried from the room.

    As David passed his mother in the hall, he stopped. “I was wrong, Mom. It isn’t Georg who doesn’t understand—it’s me. And, you know, Georg may not understand English, but he sure understands friendship. And he’s teaching me. Georg really is a special friend.”

    Mother smiled. “You know, you’re pretty special yourself,” she replied.

    Georg was already at the table. His face was all aglow with his special smile that beamed, “Hi, friend!”

    “You know, Mom,” David chuckled, “maybe Georg could teach me Danish!”

    Illustrated by Howard Post