Monday, October 31, 2011

Smiles

Recently, T began to smile. A lot. It's not that he never smiled before. But his smile has changed of late, in a quite noticeable way.

He has a slow smile that gradually takes over his whole face. It's a cute little face, with a lot of muscle in the cheeks, and it can really wear a smile.

He smiled at our adoption worker on a recent visit. She gawked. We had some family friends over for a visit, and he smiled easily and laughed while he played Monopoly with them. The other day, I tickled him and he smiled, even giggled - a totally unexpected and brand new response. His smile spreads gradually and goes on much longer than seems likely. He puts his head down and looks a little embarrassed while his smile just grows and grows, as if he's caught offguard by his own unhindered sweetness. Often, he looks away, overcome for a moment, presumably by joy. He smiled in court today. His sweetness startled the judge, in a good way. He smiled when his attorney kidded him. Everywhere we go these days, people exclaim, "That smile!" Sometimes they actually gasp. It's quite a smile.

Something about this smile has captivated me and I realized what it is: it reminds me of a baby's smile. It's the smile you see on an infant's face when he begins to realize that you can see him. It seems to mean "I exist!"

I don't know why this smile started up just now. Partly, perhaps, it's shame falling away - kicking marijuana made him feel proud. And, for the first time in a long time, he's experiencing emotions without the weedy goggles he used to cut himself off from reality.

I think his smile also means "don't hurt me". Or maybe it's just the release of tension. I don't know. It's fascinating. He is particularly sensitive and perceptive. Facing the world without shame, and without addiction, he's pretty naked and new. He seems to be experiencing social connection in a new way. His smile suggests a new realization that he is connected to other people in a world we all share. It's a beautiful smile.
 
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