There are many things I am to my son. I am the person he sees last thing before he goes to sleep and first thing in the morning (unless I'm already gone for work when he wakes up); I am the food administrator, the supplies purchaser, the bather and the clothes washer. I am the driver and the book reader, the tooth brusher and the dresser. I am the disciplinarian and the comforter; I am the kisser and the hugger.
But I am not the source of silly.
I sometimes feel terribly guilty about this. There is this gene that some people--many people--possess, which causes them to make quacking sounds and flap their arms, say things in funny voices, crawl around on the floor making zooming sounds, or just any number of things, all with the sole purpose of making a child laugh. It always works. Kids loooooove that stuff.
I don't have that gene. Everybody in the stories I read has the same voice. How I've deprived my son!
Lucky for the boy, my Dad has more than enough silly to go around. Even my Mom jumps in with the silly in this new role, this Nana role. Sometimes I think my lack of silly is at least partially due to the fact that my own Ma was not silly when I was growing up. She was funny, for sure. She was also sweet and creative and thoughtful and super attentive. But she just wasn't silly. I never minded this, though. Even as a small child, I thought silliness was just that: silly. And not having a Mom who dorked it up all the time certainly didn't leave me feeling empty inside. Still, though, when I see how much most kids respond to goofouts, I sometimes wonder if I'm lacking in an area that is actually important in my son's life. Nothing makes me happier than making him laugh, and silly is *almost* always a surefire way to do that.
Today's New Activity: Letting the Silly Out
There are moments when my son looks at me, and in his eyes is an expression of utter openness. A look on his face that says, simply, "I'm watching...I'm listening...what have you for me?" Today, just after lunch and as I was about to start packing us up for a visit with Auntie Nicole and Sureya Girlfriend, the baby looked at me with just that expression. And without any forethought or intention, so having no idea why, I hung my arms down in front of me, hands together, then brought them up in a big wave, making a trumpet-y elephant-y sound.
Monkey cracked up, his eyes full of light and joy.
So I did it again. Then I swung my arm "trunk" out in front of me and waddled around the kitchen, trumpeting now and then and pointing to "Elly," the baby's giant stuffed elephant. It was, for as long as I would have been willing to do it (I'm thinking) hilarious to him.
As I read this, I am well aware of how dorky it sounds. It makes me cringe sometimes to see adults do stuff like that. I know that makes me sound totally cruel or maybe just extremely unimaginative, but it's just a kind of involuntary reaction that I'm not sure I can prevent. I don't have the silly gene!!
And yet, seeing how happy it made monkey, I definitely didn't want to stop. There is just too much joy to be found in making a child smile to hold fast to the desire to look cool or collected. And while I'm not silly by nature, I can see that making the effort to, perhaps, "fake it til I make it" carries a lot of potential reward.
I've also found that when I'm with my boy, I'm much less inhibited about dancing in public, especially if he's already dancing. Somehow, being with him--this completely open and wonder-filled and pure presence--allows for a kind of freedom that is truly invigorating. I don't care who's around or what they might be thinking of me...I just want the two of us to enjoy ourselves and feel happy. I just want to look at my boy, my family, and know that he is exploring all the available sources of joy, that he is developing a lust for life, that he--every single day--has the opportunity to laugh.
I'm not sure I'll ever achieve "silly" as a personality trait or even as a regular, consciously practiced habit. Doing things like making elephant noises might be just a randomly occurring whim I need to capitalize on when the desire arises. And I hope I will, if only for the sake of knowing at least one of the two of us will be enjoying ourselves and, as a result, soon enough the other will too.