The Crying Game

It’s a funny thing about parenthood: the moment you have a child, you turn into a clown. No matter how rational a person you are, no matter how deliberate and dignified, the moment it’s just you and your kid, you turn into Mr. Napkin Head.

This was something I didn’t expect. Baby talk is one thing. But I’m a fool for my kids’ smiles and laughter, and I’ll do just about anything to make them giggle. (Unfortunately, I have video proof of this. Not that I’m going to share it.)

My kids get me to sing the stupidest songs, do the dumbest dances, make the most ridiculous noises. Actually, it’s not fair to say they “get” me to do it, as if I do it under duress. In point of fact, I go out of my way to look, sound, and act like a complete doofus a dozen times a day.

When Alex was a baby, Christian got annoyed every time I sang a silly song or made a weird face. “You look like an idiot,” he said, but I didn’t believe him until I saw the video proof. (He is much more conscious of his internal idiot-meter; he won’t allow himself to be caught on video doing anything silly, so you’ll have to take my word for it: he does it, too!)

But in one of those amazing instances of mellowing, he doesn’t even notice anymore. Or at least, he’s given up trying to get me to tone it down.

Here’s an example. I don’t really know how it started…probably it was an accident, an attempt at emotional manipulation on my part: I wanted a hug, and my un-huggy little girl wouldn’t give me one, so I pretended to cry. She thought it was funny, and next thing I knew she’d launched herself at my neck and wrapped her arms around it and was squeezing as hard as she could. Then she let go, giggled, and signed “more.” And thus, a game was born.

I call it the crying game. She asks for it all the time, drawing one index finger and the other down her cheeks to indicate tears. Some days, she’s really feeling empathetic, and a whimper is all it takes to coax a hug out of her. Other days I practically have to throw myself kicking and screaming on the floor. On those days, she watches the buildup with great glee and hysterical laughter. But however long she makes me wait, in the end, I get my hug, and that makes it all worthwhile.

What games do you play with your children? And what do you remember your parents playing with you?

Motherhood Moments