Monday, January 3, 2011

Murdering Peek-A-Boo

Piercing shrieks of joy and infectious fits of giggles dance through the air as three beautiful children crawl and toddle and tumble over me, each other, and countless toys littering the floor of the bedroom. Two shirts that have not made it into the dresser yet have been liberated from the laundry basket and are now priceless treasures clutched in somewhat sticky fingers and catching under knees and feet as they are determinedly being transported to their destination. With our bedtime story finished it would normally be time for kisses and hugs and rides in Mommy's arms to bed. But someone came skirting around the bed with a mischievous grin and a shirt to begin our newest favorite game - Peek-A-Boo. If one shirt is great fun then two is even more exciting so here comes baby number two with shirt number two and an impossible-to-ignore light of love in his eyes.

Sometime during the last few weeks the babies have discovered the joy of playing Peek-A-Boo. As children can be, they are most resourceful and will work together to push the side of their play-yard until they have gotten close enough to the couch to reach a blanket and pull it back through the bars or grasp a pillow and launch it over the top. If these items are not accessible they have been resourceful in using clean diapers, washrags, small cloth wipies, or most recently socks, shirts, or any other article of clothing within reach of baby hands. After securing a necessary cloth item to begin the game then someone places the item either on his or her own head or on someone else's head. If possible, covering more than one head at the same time is even more fun! A quick snatch at the veil to reveal the face underneath it results in a laughing symphony so lovely you find yourself holding your breath hoping it never ends. Just as much fun as revealing a face is the simple act of arranging the item on your own head or on someone else's head. And as socks do not provide quite the same coverage as blankets, and shirts have pesky sleeves that tangle and dangle about, covering the head or face is really just a general idea. Oftentimes the head and face are left uncovered completely as the Peek-A-Boo veil drapes around the back of a neck or flops over an ear. But no matter. The end result is the same - smiles and laughter and joy for as long as someone will play this wonderful exciting amazing game with you.

According to a study done by German Psychologist Dr. Michael Titze, children smile and laugh spontaneously 300 to 400 times a day while adults smile and laugh less than 15 times a day. Additionally, fifty years ago people laughed 18 minutes a day; however, today they laugh for only six minutes a day.

From the first day that I stopped in my tracks to watch this perfect joy that three babies were creating I pondered, and mentioned to others, and pondered some more a question that wouldn't leave me alone, "What in the world happens to us?" Not yet having seen search engines giving up page after page of references to studies supporting this finding that children smile 300 to 400 times a day while adults only smile less than 14 or 15 times a day, I wondered at my realization that something happens somewhere along the way that murders the joy of Peek-A-Boo.

What do we do to babies and children, or what do we do to ourselves that the joy of something like playing Peek-A-Boo is killed and replaced with the demand for more More MORE??? People have developed a sense of entitlement that breeds a "need" to be constantly stimulated in order to feel entertained. They must be constantly plugged in or turned on. Computers and MP3 players and video games are required. Television must include HD and cable and DVR. Cell phones must have internet access, and text messaging, and games, and calendars, and maps, and music, and books, and. . . Anything less is not enough. Blankets and socks lay forgotten, and silly food-smeared faces of people we love stay covered while empty hearts and thoughtless minds passively await their smile allotment from boxes and screens and little hand-held gizmos.


  1. I frequently get strange comments & looks from kids and parents when I suggest less technology and more imaginitive play. A pile of blocks, empty boxes, or even laundry is so much more "educational" than a "baby computer." JC

  2. Oh.....almost forgot.....I think the number of smiles per day increases when one becomes a grandparent!!!! :-) JC AKA Mimi

  3. JC,
    You get only the strange comments and looks? I seem to have garnered more cursing and screaming when I brought up the topic. ;)

    I don't know that I will have a problem with that here, though. I informed everyone we did not need any 'toys' for gifts because the babies favorite play-things are empty plastic containers, newspaper, paper towels (If they can get their hands on some), empty 2 Liter plastic soda bottles, and assorted fuzzes, hairs, and pieces of gravel, dirt, and other bits and ends. :D