Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why Does Collin Do That? - Part 1

Part of getting to know a person who is very different from you is learning their signals. Someone from another culture or even another generation might use gestures or facial expressions that are hard to understand at first. You might even mistake those actions for something else entirely until time and experience reveal the true meaning.

Collin has lots of these unfamiliar signals. It is very common for people - even people who know him relatively well - to think that he is asleep, that he is yawning, that he is pouting, when he is not. They are just using their own experiences to try to interpret what they are seeing.

Many of the things Collin does, I don't have a clear answer for either. The things I have figured out are from years of close observation and from my Mama powers. But here is a little series on a few of the mystifying things Collin does that we can actually explain.

Why Does Collin: Make That Face?

You know the face. You've seen it in a hundred pictures on this blog by this point. Sometimes it seems clear that it's excitement, sometimes you can't tell if he quite likes whatever is going on. When people see it in person, they often think he is yawning. Because why else would someone open his mouth THAT wide for THAT long?

Think of this as Collin's "Wow Face".

Look at yourself in the mirror and say "wow." Say it like you mean it. Now stop half way through. See? Wow Face.

Some things Collin's Wow Face might mean:

"Wow, that light is bright."
"Wow, that is awesome."
"Wow, that is loud."
"Wow, you scared me."
"Wow, I'm excited."
"Wow, that is way too much."

I get that last one a lot.

Obviously, part of the Wow Face is often rubbing of the ear or bringing his hands up by his face, with some finger-wiggling if things are particularly intense. Sometimes this is a self-calming thing (if it continues once the face is gone), but most of the time it's just part of the gesture, like squinching your eyes when you smile. Try smiling without moving your eyes at all. Weird, right?

So there you go. A small but important piece of the puzzle. Maybe not a corner piece, but definitely an edge piece. Once you can recognize the Wow Face, you have something to build off of in interacting with Collin one-on-one. You can try to figure out what he is saying 'wow' about and either stop it or keep it up.

Is there anything Collin does that you would like interpreted? I can't make any promises that I know the answer either, but I do like to know what other people are curious about.

Friday, February 21, 2014


There is a phenomenon that happens around here every so often and surprises me every time: I get a text or an email or a call - sometimes even from someone I haven't spoken with recently or who rarely hangs out with Collin - telling me that they have had a dream about Collin. In these dreams, there are two common factors:

1. Collin is almost always doing something he can't do in 'real life', and

2. Some kind of understanding is reached between the dreamer and Collin

I listen to these dreams with a fascination that is part wonder and part envy.

I don't dream about Collin often. When he was a baby, I had dreams of him in some kind of danger - in deep water, just out of reach - but since then, his appearances have been rare. But this song just popped up on Collin's Pandora station and I had a vivid flashback to the most recent time he showed up in my dreams.

I was in a field at the foot of a mountain. It was windy and the clouds were making wild, racing shadows on the grass. I wore a long dark skirt and no shoes. I was running. And Collin was chasing me. His run was toddler-ish, with crazy legs and straight arms. He was concentrating, his tongue out, looking down at the ground instead of where he was going, like little runners do, but he was never far behind me; his eyes were crinkled with fun and he would break into a smile as he caught up to me. I suddenly realized that he was much faster than I had thought and I had to hitch up my skirt and start really running to keep him from catching me. It got me tickled and I was laughing so hard I could barely keep going.

And that's all that happened, for what felt like a long time. When I woke up, my heart was thundering and I started crying - not because the dream was over, but from the intensity of the joy, which wasn't just from Collin running. It was the understanding between us that he knew where I was and was coming to get me.

When I told Kyle about it, he said, "It sounds like heaven." That was exactly what I thought. Like I got a glimpse.