Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Smile Therapy

I still have many things to share about our trip, but first, I wanted to interrupt these messages with a serious chat about Smile Therapy.  We had to initiate such a thing in our home today.  I can hardly stop smiling when I think about the situation right now.

Our youngest, O, suddenly found himself fed up with his brother who was pestering him at the lunch table, I guess, and he suddenly screamed, "Don't you ever smile at me ever again!"

This seemed like an unusual request, so like the good, intrusive mother that I am, I called him over to me and then lit up my face with the biggest smile I ever did display.

In response, he screamed at me to stop it and then stomped away crying hysterically.

I decided to investigate the matter further.

Following my lead, J then smiled at him and he screamed more.  And louder.  Then she said, "Hmm, funny, he used to like it when we smiled at him when he was a baby."  (Keeping in mind he's only two months younger than her, so that's funny in more than one way.)

So I followed O and cornered him.  Gently, I sat down at his level and took his hands.  Then I smiled big.  He screamed and thrashed like he was being tortured.  Weirdest thing ever.

I said, "Okay, so I'm going to sit here and smile at you till you can scream it out and talk about what's really bothering you."

For five minutes I sat there grinning like a fool, while he screamed and cried and thrashed around.  He closed his eyes so tight so he couldn't look at my face.  So then I added a song.  A very happy, made up song.

Some of you may be thinking about how much torture that must have been for the poor boy.  His mom, smiling and singing.  Oh, you have no idea.  Most of you have never heard me sing.  It was far worse than you could imagine.  And he howled and cried for me to stop being so happy.  But he only encouraged me to be happier for him.  He had lost his joy, so I wanted to double-up my efforts to help him find it again.

And finally, as abruptly as it all began, the tears stopped flowing, he started to grin and then ... he giggled.  He opened his eyes and threw his arms around me and kissed my cheeks.  Then he smiled with his whole face -- his mouth, his eyes lit up, he was the happy little boy he often is, again.

With our noses practically touching each other, we practiced exchanging smiles back and forth for a few moments (smiles and frowns and smiles) and laughing together.  We hugged some more and he skipped off.  Well, he galloped; he doesn't seem to get the whole skipping concept yet.

I called him back a little while after to ask him what had made him so mad.  He didn't have a good reason.  He seemed to have forgotten what started it all.  Smile therapy had given him his smile back and wiped away whatever bad feelings set him off.  Wow!

Smile therapy: drive your angry kids back to sanity and happiness by out-crazying them.  It worked for me. :)

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