In our house, the one and only way to stop the Daddy-Tickle-Monster is to say, "I LOVE YOU DADDY!" very loudly and clearly. I know one of my favourite memories of this time in our lives will be hearing Cole's laughter and then a desperate squeal of, "I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU, DADDY!" and then, "I can't hear you...." and "I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE YOU!"
I was touched the other day when Mark was tickling his little baby girl in his arms and she was giggling and Cole was eating macaroni at the dining room table and he looked up and shouted, "Daddy, I love you!" Was it out of reflex or was it empathetic? We'll never know, but I like to think that my little boy was rescuing his sister from the grips of the dreaded tickle monster.
Yesterday, I took the kids to the Sears Portrait Studio. I got them dressed up nicely and packed extra clothes into the diaper bag. I made sure they were both in good moods and I brought toys. We got to the mall early and I bribed Cole with the least messy and most healthy muffin I could think of (raisin bran) and I pumped myself up with a cafe mocha.
Once we were actually in the studio, Cole wasn't into taking off his shoes and socks. He wasn't into sitting on the white screen on the glowing "star" in the centre. He didn't want to follow any of our instructions and he CERTAINLY wasn't going to smile.
Amelia, on the other hand, would sit on the star, for a moment. Then she'd crawl off in one direction while Cole raced off in another. I finally said to Cole, "Can you sit on this star, please?" And he noticed that if he sat near the star, it disappeared. It was actually a light being projected down from up above somewhere.
"It keeps going away!" he exclaimed.
So the photographer grabbed a bright gold star from a Santa sack and held it up above her head. She started to try to be silly with the star to make Cole laugh. She was a punk chick, asian lady with too much purple eye shadow and when I started to sing the Fireman Sam song and she tried to sing along, it became clear she didn't know the words. But to her credit, she raced up to Cole and tried to pretend to tickle him with the star.
"I'm going to tickle you if you don't smile!" she teased.
And he began to laugh. And then he tried to hide behind me.
"I'm going to tickle you if you don't sit down!" she called.
And as she raced up to us with the gold star poised to tickle his belly, my little boy cried out, "I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!"
The photographer looked surprised and touched, "I love you, too, I guess."