A baby's favorite plaything
Although I read it hundreds of times, I just didn't understand its significance until I gave birth.
Like most expectant mothers, I read a number of books about pregnancy, wanting to know, well, what exactly I should be expecting! I pored over these books – highlighting passages, taking quizzes, and marking off checklists – in order to make sure that I was prepared for anything and everything the birth of my son might bring. And I thought I was ready.
But I found that there was one particular item that I did not pay quite enough attention to. It was a sentence that appeared in every book I had read. It seemed innocuous enough, always casually thrown into chapters on "developmental play" or "what to buy." And although I must have read it dozens of times, I just didn't understand its significance until I gave birth.
That sentence was, "You will be your baby's favorite toy."
No truer words have ever been written. For more than a year, I was my son's favorite toy. No matter how cranky or tired he'd get, I had the ability to make him smile or calm his fussing, just by making a fool of myself – and I did. And more often than not, I found myself doing so in public.
There were times when I wished his affections would pass to some other plaything. Especially when I found myself singing "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" – complete with hand gestures and clapping – for my son and the rest of the weary patrons in line at the post office.
Another time I spent the entirety of a two-hour flight singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in my best Grover voice, much to the chagrin of my fellow passengers.
And, of course, who can forget the time I shimmied my heart out in front of the television display – and a bunch of smirking teenagers – at an electronics store, so that my son would remain quiet as my husband paid for our purchases.
As I walked through the aisles of the grocery store, making ridiculous faces and loud blowing noises, I prayed that one day I'd find a toy that could entertain my son as well as I could.
Goodness knows I introduced him to as many large and loud baby playthings as I could find. But alas, none of them had the same allure as my openly embarrassing self – with kiddie song and dance numbers.
Until, that is, he went partly mobile.
At 8 months, my son transformed into quite an explorer. As he pulled himself up and discovered our home in new ways, he suddenly found the simplest objects absolutely delightful. And as such, the demand for "Mommy Davis Jr." decreased exponentially.
Instead of relief, I found myself a little sad at the change. As my son stared in rapture at a simple cardboard coaster he had retrieved from the coffee table – instead of paying attention to the chaotic James Brown impersonation I was doing a few feet away – I couldn't help but realize how quickly the time goes by.
It wasn't too long afterward that my baby became completely mobile, running away from me as often as he ran toward me.
As he grows older, I know that I will find myself more often left behind, along with all of his other old playthings, now considered too boring for words.
I've realized that I need to maximize this time that he is still a baby (although at 18 months, I know that calling him that may be a bit of a stretch).
I must up the ante and show my son that I am still worthy of the "favorite toy" status he once lovingly conferred upon me. So I'm working on some new material for the occasional performance requests I still receive – some new songs, a few new funny faces, a little juggling, and perhaps even some clogging numbers.
Nothing is too good for my boy. I am happy to remain his favorite toy as long as he'll have me.
So watch out, world – I feel a medley coming on! I'm not sure whether it will begin with the "ABC" song or a little Johnny Cash, but I'm quite certain that it will involve generous use of jazz hands.
With so little time left in this stage of my son's life, I'm happy to do whatever it takes.