Entertaining Children

Ireland giggling in spite of the bright sun in her eyes

Ireland giggling in spite of the bright sun in her eyes

One last post from my visit with friends Friday morning . . . I think I am suffering from child envy.  Not something that happens too often, but seeing this particular family always makes me long for the particular set of joys and heart aches that come with having a family.

I mentioned in a previous post that watching the adults entertain the children was well worth the visit.  Entertaining the young involves making many faces.

There’s the I’m-so-exuberant-that-my-face-is-going-to-break-if-I-smile-any-harder face.  I suspect I make this face a lot at babies.  The eyes open wide, the eyebrows raise, nose crinkles, and the mouth opens into a jack-o-lantern grin.

Grandma make Ireland squeal and she comes in for some sugar

Grandma make Ireland squeal and she comes in for some sugar

For me, perhaps because I have learned through many years experience working with dogs and don’t have any other skills, this face is accompanied by the high-pitched happy-puppy voice.  It’s the voice that tells dogs you’re pleased and excited and they should be, too.  It’s effectiveness with babies may be limited–it did not convince little Ireland that I was more interesting than getting fed, for example.

There’s also the “awww” face.  That’s the face that may be accompanied by a pouting bottom lip, a head tipped downward, eyes rolled slightly upward and a general “aww, aren’t you happy?” sort of demeanor.  This face, by the way, is also ineffective at distracting a baby from the 3 basics:  1)  hunger, 2) fatigue, or 3) dirty diaper.  I did enough babysitting growing up to know that if you have an unhappy baby, start with those 3 things and then move on to making faces.

There’s also the I-love-you-so-much-I-would-do-anything-to-make-you-smile face.  Grandma’s seems to have this face down.  This is not terribly different from the I’m-so-exuberant face, but seems to be honed for kissing.  My friend exhibited this behavior in a way I can never hope to imitate.  I think you have to be a card-carrying grandma to do this effectively.

Grandma demonstrating how to make a finger jump from one hand to the other

Grandma demonstrating how to make a finger jump from one hand to the other

Besides baby Ireland, there was also a young nephew visiting, Jonathan.  As one might expect with any 8-year old, Jonathan was not so entertained by sitting around watching adults make silly faces at a baby.  Lucky for Jonathan, he was in the hands of professionals.

From Ireland’s grandparents, he attempted to learn how to make mosquito sounds with his mouth, how to make frog noises by flicking his throat, how to make one leg disappear, and, most challenging, how to move one finger from one hand to the other.  I was a little disappointed that no one showed him how to steal a nose, but he was pretty caught up in the finger-jump trick, so I didn’t want to confuse him further.

I did capture my friend/Grandma teaching the finger-jumping trick.  I wish I would have been standing on the other side of her, though, to capture Jonathan’s face of wonder.

My canine baby patiently waiting for my return to Chattanooga

My canine baby patiently waiting for my return to Chattanooga

 

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