My little Carter - C! Even at the youngest age, he was so into facial expressions. He would intently and loving gaze at my face. He is my sweet and gentle boy. The boy who comes running and jumps into your arms, if you have been away for any amount of time. He has mastered the art of taking over a crowd with his antics and enjoys being the center of attention. His very favorite toys are his Thomas engines, Disney Cars and Chuggington engines. I suspect this is the way it is, because they all have faces for him to critique and explore. He will tell me what each toy is feeling based on their facial expression. "Lightening is Happy." " Cranky is Mad." He gets down, flush with the floor and watches the faces of the trains choo-chooing by.
I know that for most children, this may be normal. But this behavior is completely opposite of Evan. So it has been a delight to watch and a joy to experience.
From very early on, if Carter was doing something he shouldn't be doing, a stern look was all that was needed from across the room. He would crumble at the sight of your expression and come running into your arms weeping as if you were going to disown him.
But as he has matured, along with this gentle spirit, he has also mastered the art of getting your mind off the offense at hand. He is brilliant and because he has studied every millimeter of your face, he no longer takes verbal cues as reality. He comes running to see what your facial expression shows. He is a master at recognizing the glimmer in your eye as you "scold" him with a stern face. If he sees in your eyes that you are not 100% upset with him, he begins to laugh, tilts his head back and forth and starts to jibber jabber. He knows if he can get you to break a smile, he's good as gold.
So I have had to learn to tell him "no" and then look away. If he can't see your face, your eyes especially, he can't see if you are fully upset. And if he can't play the "cute" card, then he knows I mean business. You follow? And as soon as there is any doubt in his mind that he isn't in the clear, the tears start flowing and the true remorse kicks in.
And as his tactics have evolved, so has his vocabulary. So now, it isn't just the facial expression that cues him, he will genuinely ask, "Are you Happy, Mama?"
This has opened up a brand new way to communicate. So I have had to choose my words very wisely. And try to keep a calm, steady voice and a gentle yet firm expression. I have tried to express my feelings in terms of "happy" "sad" "upset" "disappointed" while explaining to him why I am feeling that way. His big blue eyes open up as wide as they can and he softly looks at you while you explain what is wrong. He then gently touches your face and says, "Sorry mama, you happy now?"
How can a mother resist that?? I know, he will soon lose the genuineness of the apology and add it to his arsenal of escape routes. But as for right now, I soak it all in, pick him up, hold him tight, and tell him "yes Mommy is happy" and let him win.