Thursday, June 16, 2011

When he covers his eyes

I pride myself on being a mindful parent.  I try to think of E's feelings before my own and to approach situations through his eyes. I've been paying close attention to his body language since the day he was born. I've come from learning hunger cues and sleepy signs to learning his social and emotional body language as he grows older.  His body language especially intrigues me these days. I often wonder what he is thinking or feeling.

When I bring him with me to meet up with friends, he always lowers his head in shyness.  His ball cap just covering his face enough for his comfort level and if you look closely he has a sort of scowl on his face.  I've been conscious not to label him as "shy" and I tell my friends that it simply takes him a few minutes to warm-up. My close friends understand his routine and we go about our conversation.  Sure enough he will peak his head up and is laughing and talking in no time.  I often wish this was an acceptable practice as an adult - to bow my head until I was ready to jump into conversation.  I have bad memories when I was younger of being called shy and going red in the face or being called out for my uncomfortableness.  Clearly, this doesn't help the situation and I am confident that if I don't pressure E into it, that he will come around at his own pace and comfort level.

When I drop him off at Mrs. X's house in the morning, we go through the same routine.  He is chatting away to me as we approach and then knock on the door.  As soon as Mrs. X answers in her usual cherry and welcoming way, he lowers his head. He hides his face, but if you look closely his mouth is forming a smile.  He loves Mrs. X and all of his friends.  I can tell by the way he tells me about his day. I sit him down on the bench and take off his shoes and hang his hat.  She tells him what she is making for breakfast and what their plans are for the day and it isn't until I give him a kiss and say my goodbyes that he is confident enough to raise his head and run off into the house.  I almost think in this case, he is demonstrating bashfulness.  Mrs. X. certainly dotes over him, as she does with all her little boys.  Maybe it's because she calls him the apple of her eye or because she calls him a cutie and he is thinking, Aw, gee thanks!

There are other examples too. Like when I read The Potty Book and Henry cheers and says Hooray! I did it! when he pees on the potty. E looks away or slightly lowers his head when he sees Henry's parents with open arms congratulating him.  Or when Franklin's Mother says, Franklin, in a way that let's the reader know that Franklin has done something wrong, E tips his head in shame, too.

It could be perfectly normal, but some of the reactions are starting to worry me.  The best example is when he watches Finding Nemo.  It is the only Disney movie I own and I don't even know where I got it. I think it was an extra copy my parents had and I brought it home with me when watching my nieces years ago. Anyhow, there are scary moments in it that I like to skip through because I think he is too young for them. I'm not a fan of him watching Disney at this age - seriously does every mother in their movies have to die? But I do think Finding Nemo has some really cute scenes and E is fascinated with the fish and sharks.

I've tried a few times to get a picture of E's reaction to some scenes and I finally captured it this past week.  Here is a sequence of three positions E took while watching, what I considered a happy moment on the movie.

The first picture is taken when Nemo is swimming around calling for his dad at the end of the movie.

The second photo is when Nemo and his dad see each other.

The third photo is when Nemo and his dad start swimming quickly towards each other to reunite.

As you can tell my the pictures, this scene is just too much for E. He can't bare to watch.

I know he is very sensitive, but could it be more than that? Is he himself, mindful? Is he viewing the situation through another’s eyes? Is he empathic? Does he have a deep understanding of another’s feelings?Is he sympathetic? Does he share the same feelings? Is he bashful? Is he embarrassed? Does he feel flustered or self-conscious? Or is he just “shy”?

These are questions I've been asking myself lately.  It's something that I am fascinated with and I have been thinking about a lot, even though I may just be thinking too much.  Is there something that I can do to ease him? I always explain the situations to him to help him understand.  I can't help but think that something is upsetting him and that perhaps there is something, anything I can do to help. I can almost feel his pain and uncomfortableness inside of me and it makes me a little sad.  He almost seems way too young to show these deep feelings and connections, doesn't he?


  1. I found that talking to my daughters about emotions and putting words to how we feel really helped them at a young age be more comfortable with their own feelings. We take time to say to them how we feel or when we read a book, we show them the expressions on the characters faces and then put into words how they feel. We do the same with movies or with friends and family. We also do it while looking at pictures: "See how happy X was to receive a hug from Y!" Now that they are 3 and a half, and 5 and a half, we ask them how they think people feel... (maybe not as often with the youngest, but every now and then).
    When they act out or cry, we now also ask them how they are feeling so that we can understand them and they also can try to put into words their feelings. Sometimes they just tell us as we walk by someone at the park: "He is crying because he is sad that he has to leave."
    I hope this helps a bit... maybe it would help you read his body language, but also help him tell you how he is feeling...

  2. i'm wondering, like ginette, if he just doesn't have the language to express what he is feeling, so he emotes it physically. it seems like me might just be overwhelmed and he go to coping is to hide his face? not much help i guess.

    -julie (smothermother)