Thursday, August 16, 2012

I don't want to be enjoyed!

I know we're not the only family that thinks it's funny to harass their child. It's a time honored tradition. I grew up with my mother singing the Sesame Street song wrong just to bug me, and boy did it. 'Sing nice mommy' was said a lot in our house. My husbands family was the same way. It starts right away too. It's an uncontrollable compulsion to reach your finger out and tickle the bottom of a baby's foot if it's sticking out from a blanket. And then we snicker when the baby draws that foot back into warmth and safety. As they grow, we continue to tickle, poke, pull and tease. Just the other day I found myself on the floor with Baby A chasing her as she crawled around the room and pinching her feet and legs while she giggled and squealed and then turned around to chase me back. It was so much fun and so very funny. Another of her favorite games is to hang out on my bed and crawl as fast as she can across it. Just as she gets to the other side, I reach out, grab a foot and drag her back over to my side, face down, drool smearing across the bed, laughing uproariously. If it weren't so stinking funny, there would probably be something wrong with me, dragging my child by the foot. It's one of those joys of parenthood things where because you created that little person, you get to laugh at/torture them. And as they get older, you tease them about the boys or girls they like, the boy bands they have a crush on, how they do their hair, or the outfits they put together on their own and so on.

There's a famous quote from growing up where my sister didn't appreciate my mom's amusement at her expense and told her to stop laughing at her. My mom responded 'I'm not laughing at you, I"m enjoying you.' My sister then said she didn't want to be enjoyed, which made my mom laugh even more. Both lines has lived on and are frequently repeated 30 something years later.

Yesterday my daycare lady, Mama T, sent me a video of Baby A. She had pulled up on a little chair and then didn't know what to do next. She couldn't figure out how to sit, she hasn't figured out how to walk, so she's standing there stuck, hanging on to the chair for dear life and screaming. I was practically in tears I was laughing so hard. When I showed the video to a coworker, who doesn't have children yet, she was so heartbroken for my poor little girl and I had to wonder if there's really something wrong with my reaction to Baby A upset and stuck. After a very short inner dialog with myself that involved bullies, self esteem, independence, and raising strong children, I decided I (and the millions of other parents) wasn't doing anything wrong.

Baby A did manage to sit herself down after a few minutes and because no one jumped in to rescue her she'll learn faster how to sit down the next time she pulls herself up. Me laughing at (enjoying) the situation teaches her that it is not something to get all worked up about. By letting her figure it out on her own, she is developing resilience and self sufficiency. It's also teaching her how to be laughed at (enjoyed). Shockingly enough (note sarcasm), a lot of people have trouble with that. Did you do or say something stupid? Expect to be laughed at (enjoyed). I don't actually know what the pinching and tickling teaches but hey, while she's little and thinks it's hysterical, I'll keep pinching! It will be far too soon that she's too old to pin down and torture. I'll have to come up with new ways to enjoy her but I"m sure they'll be just as funny and I'll laugh just as hard.

That's life, it's funny. Laugh at it.

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