Terror Alert

Ian has what I can only describe as a full-body smile. His eyes crinkle, he dips his chin, and wrinkles his nose. His cheeks are chubby, his teeth have those cute little gaps, and when he smiles you feel as if you’re in an Old Navy commercial.

Don’t be fooled. Stay alert and on your guard. Be on the lookout for a three-foot tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy named Ian. Also known as ‘Fatty’ [Lumpkin], ‘Eanie-Beanie’, ‘Budgimus Maximus’, or ‘Stop that!’, the suspect is to be considered armed and dangerous.

It will come as no surprise when I say that boys are naughty. We start at one-year-old, and we never stop. I once wrote about Ian’s naughty tells, about how he would give himself away before actually doing anything wrong. His poker face has improved, and he’s now on the offensive.

Because she loves me, Kelly made cupcakes last weekend. We were all in the den, watching television; the cupcakes were on the stove, fully-frosted. Kelly asked Ian if he would like ‘some cupcake’, meaning, of course, that she was willing to share the cupcake she was already eating. Ian shook his head, turned around, and walked calmly from the room. We should’ve known something was going on.

He returned a few seconds later, cupcake in hand.

First, Ian knows he is not allowed near the stove, let alone the stovetop. Second, he also knows that if he wants something to eat, he is supposed to ask Mommy or Daddy (who then asks Mommy). This is espeically true of anything frosted.

In short, Ian was being naughty; flagrantly so. He didn’t sneak off and eat the cupcake in a corner. He didn’t even start eating the cupcake on the way from the kitchen. He walked to the kitchen, took the cupcake, walked back into the den, looked at us…and smiled! He tilted his head, and smiled! You have to admit, the kid has guts. Or maybe not, since his parents let him eat the cupcake! We didn’t even put up a fight. We just rolled our eyes, and said, ‘Okay.’

What happened? Were we simply caught in the emotional Tilt-A-Whirl that is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Were we too tired (and lazy) to fight another battle, knowing that the week was only beginning? Or perhaps, just this once, we wanted to enjoy a cake-based food without having to share with Ian? I think not! Read that last paragraph carefully. No, further. Further. Wait, go back. There. There! You see? He smiled! There was nothing we could do! Have you ever seen anyone being denied a cupcake in an Old Navy commercial?

I now realize that Ian has discovered the power of his smile, and of being cute. Whenever he does something wrong, he just tilts his head and smiles. It reminds me of Twilight Zone: The Movie and that freaky kid with the bowl-cut, and the naive stranger who just can’t understand why the family is so nervous. And let me tell you, folks, Kelly and I are the family, and everyone else is the stranger.

After Ian finished his cupcake, he stood and walked back to the kitchen. I followed. As he reached toward the tray of cupcakes, he noticed me and stopped. ‘Go back,’ he said, in a tone that implied that he had the situation under control and didn’t need my help, but thank you, Father, for caring so much about me. I stepped back, out of his field of vision, and saw him walk toward the stove again. I stepped forward, and he spun to face me. And he smiled.

Ian walked back to the den, sans cupcake. I’m on to you, Jack!

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