In the film, Casino–not that I particularly enjoyed this dark, mafia-steeped movie–Robert DeNiro remarks at one point that he loved to watch his wife, Sharon Stone’s character, “work a room.”  In fact, he said there was nothing he enjoyed more.  I never quite understood that comment but it stayed with me.  The other night at an art opening, I realized I got it.  I was watching my five-year-old daughter work a room and I couldn’t have been enjoying myself more.  Let me draw you the picture…

Miranda arrived at the small gallery in new leopard-print fleece jacket which she insisted on taking off immediately so, “Everyone can see my beautiful dress.”  She went directly to the food table to scope out the treats because one needs sustenance before one can be fascinating.  She choose, with assistance, a chocolate truffle and then began to devour fresh pineapple.  Having satisfied her need to eat at art openings, she began to move around the room and look at the works presented.  She exclaimed over several and then turned her attention to the people gathered.

This is where the fun starts.  I don’t know how many of these conversations begin because I prefer to let her do her magic and not hover.  I observe from a respectful distance and watch for signs of misunderstanding or needs, like napkins.  From previous observation I know that she often leaps into conversations either by presenting herself, “I’m Miranda Rose.”  Or inquiring the subject’s name, “What’s your name?”

Questions often follow; “What’s your favorite color?”  “What’s your favorite food?”  She then volunteers her favorites if the appropriate inquiry doesn’t come quickly.  Some people are very active participants and others aren’t sure what to do with such a precocious five-year-old.  But everyone has a good time.  After a time, she discovered some postcards announcing an art opening in New York which featured butterflies.  She began taking people by the hand to lead them to the desk where the she presented  them with a “beautiful postcard.”

She had the room eating out of her hand.  She was stellar.  Of course, this isn’t anything new; she’s been developing this technique since she was three.

Although it’s hard to know it now, I was a pathologically shy child.  I could barely hold a conversation with aunts and uncles, let alone complete strangers, until I was well into my teens.  I had to work hard to overcome that natural tendency and probably would not have done so had I not been a Navy Brat and moved every two years.  A person who grows up in a small town does not need to overcome shyness.  So it was very important to me that my daughter begin very early to reach out to others.  So far, so good.

Now I just need to take what I’ve learned from her and apply it at parties and gatherings.  What’s your favorite color?

Ready to charm!