I was playing around with my friends one-year-old the other day – you know, peek-a-boo, tickling her feet, pulling silly faces… the usual.
After a moment, the peek-a-boo thing got a little tedious for me (she was loving it, but I suspected she would still have been loving it three hours later, and there’s only so much I can hide behind my hands, remove them to show an insanely smiling face, make a stupid noise that is supposed to sound like ‘peek-a-boo’ but just sounds like a ridiculous loud noise, then start all over again, until I want to kill myself), so I switched to a different game: ‘I’ve got your nose’.
At first she didn’t really understand what the hell I was going on about, and looked at me in a way that suggested she thought I was a crazy woman, talking in a language she didn’t understand, and that she hoped I’d hurry up and leave her alone soon (ouch).
After a while though, the realisation of what I was doing seemed to dawn on her. However, instead of being met with gurgling noises of happiness, as I had expected – or at least hoped for – she looked positively terrified!
Now you’d have thought following this reaction I’d have stopped, right? Any normal person would be mortified with such a response, and abruptly change the game to one a little less scary. Well, it would seem I am not normal, as I literally couldn’t stop. I found the fear written all over her tiny, scared little face absolutely hilarious! I kept doing it, over and over again, trying to coax a little smile from her, but instead receiving the same, fearful look at having ‘stolen’ her nose, while I had tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing so hard.
I’m happy to inform you that after a few minutes of entertaining myself – and before she also burst into tears – I did stop. But it got me thinking – and I am about to share these thoughts with you lucky little so-and-so’s.
You’re welcome 🙂
It occurred to me, we – adults – do this often. We invent games that actually scare children, but act them out in such a playful way that we convince ourselves this is acceptable.
Case at hand: my Dad.
When I was a child, my dad would playfully pick me up and advise me he was going to throw me away in the bin (or ‘trash’, for my American chums). I would squawk and giggle, crying “No! No!” until he put me back down again.
To my dad, that was the end of the game. For me, it was the start of something else…
Unfortunately, I got it into my head that one day he WOULD actually throw me away into the bin. And this thought terrified me. So, in my warped, innocent and small child-mind, I decided the best way to avoid being ‘thrown away’ into the bin/trash was, well… to be nice to ‘it’.
(oh dear lord, here comes the crazy…)
“Be nice to the bin?” I hear you ask, “How exactly would you do that?!”
Well, whenever I had to throw away any paper – envelopes, scrap, post-it’s, etc – I would, erm… well, I would write a note to it (the bin), with offerings of rubbish/trash.
Okay, hold on! Don’t go running off just yet! Hear me out!
I genuinely believed that any day now my dad would be THROWING ME AWAY! I had to do something, right?! So I decided to get ‘Bin’ on my side. If I managed that, it wouldn’t ‘eat’ me. You see?
C’mon, I was young. This logic worked in my tiny mind.
The notes generally consisted of:
I hope you enjoy this present.
And of course, once the paper was folded a couple of times, I addressed the ‘note’ to the bin:
To Bin, Love Belle xx
This went on for AGES! It got to the stage where if – heaven forbid – I forgot to address the rubbish to the bin, I was sure ‘it’ would never forgive me, and the very next time the (apparently) funny game of ‘Put Belle In The Bin’ ensued, I was bound to be eaten alive.
Now I realise you will all be thinking, “Who the hell IS this girl?! She’s actually insane!” and frankly, I wouldn’t blame you. But if it wasn’t for the (terrifying) ‘game’ of throwing me away, this fear would never have emerged, and the subsequent ‘notes’ would never have existed!
So really, it wasn’t actually my fault.
Thankfully, the older I got (which was still pretty young), the more I realised this was ridiculous and abruptly stopped addressing my rubbish/trash to the Bin (it also has a little to do with the fact my younger sister ‘discovered’ (aka spied on me to find out why I was always behaving rather strangely whenever I had to throw anything away) this note-to-bin thing, and let’s just say it become her bribery tool for many, many, maaaaaaany years…).
But it makes me wonder how many other ‘games’ were invented by our parents/aunts/uncles, etc, that entertained them to the point they almost threw-up with laughter, but terrified us as children, and maybe even then led to fears/phobias in adulthood that we haven’t even made the connection with yet…
So I ask you to consider this, big, scary adults: if you find it roll-on-the-floor-and-wet-yourself-funny, the chances are it’s scaring your poor child shitless!
I will not be ‘stealing’ any noses for the foreseeable future.