Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

There is a new game we play in my house now.  

Like the “Leg Bounce” game, and “Baby Superman” it’s one we just sort of stumbled upon in the course of regular horse play.

For vision correction and/or salivating upon. 

In those games however there is giggling, piercing little screams and wide-eyed enthusiasm. Master Blackwell, it’s quite clear, is having a blast.

In the new game however, fun does not appear to be the objective. The new game is called “Steal Dad’s Glasses, Coat them in Drool and then Chew on Them.”

But I’m not sure if there might be more to this game than meets the eye.

This first began about a month ago. While reclined on the couch with the little guy on my chest, he crawled toward my head. But instead of looking beyond my hair and toward that ill-defined goal he so often crawls toward, he stopped.

His head tilted down to my face. His eyes widened, his mouth opened, drew into a slight smile and he grew silent. Then he reached forward, crisply, methodically and grabbed my spectacles.

Once he got a firm grip he jerked them off my face and promptly began applying a thick glaze of drool on the lenses. I watched his mouth open, his tongue pop out and slide back and forth across my lenses creating an unholy mess.

After this, I took the glasses back, cleaned them off and put them back on. Naturally, he responded by quickly removing the glasses and irrigating them once again. Again, I took the glasses back, cleaned them and put them back on. Undaunted, the boy immediately proceeded to take the glasses off my face.

And this is the game: he takes off the glasses and, no sooner are they back on my face than he’s attempting to take them off. (Incidentally, I’ve gone through 11 consecutive rounds of this with him in one sitting. If nothing else, the boy doesn’t lack for persistence.) The game has yet to change, though we have learned more about it — and him.

At one time or another, I’ve watched my son stuff all manner of things in his mouth. Napkins. Toys. Dolls. Socks. The occasional remote control. But the glasses are different.

All the other inanimate objects he drools upon share a common level of enjoyment. His eyes stay wide and he verbalizes his satisfaction with steady streams of “gaahs,” “whubbs,” “baahs” and raspberries. But the glasses are met with more subtle reaction.

What does it mean when he puts food on the side of his
head? We could ponder this for hours. 
When he’s removed the glasses from my face a few things happen in short order:

  • he makes eye contact
  • he smiles briefly
  • he continues to make eye contact
  • he lets out a satisfied sigh (with what I’m pretty sure is an air of accomplishment)
  • he intensifies eye contact
  • I wonder if my son is somehow looking down his nose at me
  • The eye contact continues
  • I wonder if I’m unwittingly being emasculated challenged by an infant
  • I reach for my glasses back.

Mrs. Blackwell, deep thinker that she is, wondered if perhaps this was some sort of demonstration of dominance on the part of the boy. After some preliminary research, we’ve found no confirmation, though I’m sure Freud would have a field day here.

As a parent, the well of deep, visceral questions you can have about your baby’s behavior is limitless. One could ponder them all day, considering the implications for the future and what certain behaviors say about their development.

As for me? I just wear my contact lenses more. 

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