A few nights ago I was putting Baby Harbat to bed. Here’s the scene: I’m holding her and rocking before I put her in her crib—this is quiet snuggly time and she’s supposed to be winding down to go to sleep. I hear a wet pop as she pulls her pacifier out. I don’t make eye contact but look through my cracked eye to see her looking up at me. Don’t engage, don’t give her an audience. She slowly reaches up with her index finger and presses me on the tip of the nose. And giggles.
I can’t help but laugh. Damn her clever mischief. So it goes in our house. Getting another family member to laugh is the brass ring. With my wife I only bat around .100, but it’s worth the effort. Now my daughter is doing the same thing, knowing that getting a parent to laugh will grease the wheels of any exchange. More throwing food on the floor? Staying up late? Running away at bedtime? Sure, just make me laugh.
With my wife I often try the pants game. Example:
Me: [pulling pants up as high as they go and thrusting out my lower abdomen] “Hey, check out my substitute teacher’s bulge!”
She: [not looking]: “Mmm-hmmm…”
Me: [rotating pants around so zipper faces to the side] “I don’t think these fit right.”
She: “I’m not looking.”
Me: [arching lower back, sticking out stomach, and pushing pants to near-drop level] “I think I’ve lost weight, down to super slim!”
Me: [waddling forward and pressing swaying belly into her while she reads]
She: “Eeew! Get away! [laughing]
Me: “Total. Success.”
I also come up with scores of pseudonyms. Every name exchange begins, “I want you to call me XX from now on.” Her response, “I can’t remember the last one.”
- Supper Gianni Bragança (This one has an entire personality profile and talks about himself ONLY in the third person. He’s a real bastard.)
- Nightsoil Fitzwilliam
- Shalom Ben Israel
- Nungvat Chittaporn (Maybe he’s Thai, maybe he’s a transvestite, who knows?)
- Lopun Shimun (I’ve explained, patiently, that these are both first names. There is no last name.)
- Tampan Borbang (He’s from the Mongolian steppes and doesn’t understand why it’s funny that his name sounds like a feminine product.)
- Mitsui (She/he is definitely a transvestite, a massage parlor geisha who, “Promise to make-a all your trension dissapeah, unless you naughty, then Mitsui punish missus!”
- N! (This is pronounced as a roof-of-the-mouth click.)
- Dr. G.R.K. Singh, MD, PhD (GRK is Gupta Rama Krishna)
- Negative Zero Quadrant (This one infuriates her. “It’s not a name!”)
- Pran Prenapak (He is prom de Pillipines.)
This is only a very, very small sampling. Why she can’t remember them all is beyond comprehension.
Now our family has a whole new act, an up-and-coming youngster with fresh comedy stylings. Will it be physical comedy? Thinking man’s poop jokes? Political satire? Rickles-esque insult banter? Well, she’s got a willing audience. I recommend starting with pant/diaper jokes. They kill.