You know, the kind of laughter that leaves you feeling…well…happy.
When was the last time you tickled someone?
The last time someone tickled you?
I’ve been reading the latest online issue of ODE magazine (if you don’t know it, check it out)…all about happiness…and it’s got me thinking about laughter and tickling and giggling and Tulliver.
In the past few weeks, I’ve recognized that she is learning to laugh. Now, of course, she’s been laughing, giggling, smiling, squealing with joy, and all other happy-related things for a long time, but in the past few weeks, she’s become conscious of these things…and of happiness as an emotion.
Take for instance her favorite book, Todd Parr’s It’s Okay. If you aren’t familiar with this smart picture book that gives readers (of all ages) permission and encouragement to be exactly who they are (and who they want to be), here’s the gist:
It’s okay to be short.
It’s okay to be tall.
It’s okay to put a fish in your hair.
It’s okay to try new things.
…and so on.
Tully’s favorite page spread is as follows (and at least once a day, she gets the book, turns the pages until she finds this spread, and then demands that I read to her…again and again and again):
It’s okay to laugh out loud.
It’s okay to cry.
Ever since she was ten months old, I’ve been reading this page spread to her with great exaggeration.
It’s okay to laugh out loud, I read, and then burst out with a big, fat HA HA HA.
It’s okay to cry, I say, and by the time I hit the word cry, I’m pretend-sobbing so hard that my whole body is shaking.
(I know, I know. I should have been an actress.)
Now being the highly empathetic little person that she is, Tully has been comforting me during my crying fits for months. By the time I’ve taken the first sniff, she’s leapt up from my lap, turned to face me, and wrapped me up in a big hug and kiss…which, of course, makes me laugh out loud HA HA HA…and we get to start all over again.
But now, Tully is acting out the emotions herself.
It’s okay to laugh out loud, I read. And she says, HA HA.
It’s okay to cry, I say. And she whimpers. (And now I do the comforting.)
She’s also tickling Andrew and I…wiggling her little fingers against us and expressing great joy when we burst into laughter. And this morning, I watched her tickle her stuffed gorilla McGillicutty. (I’ll skip the part where I wax on about how incredibly sweet this was...so, so sweet…especially because it turns out that McGillicutty is VERY ticklish. Who knew?)
And Tully is also asking to be tickled. (She lies down and looks at me like, well, come on, tickle me now. I’m ready.)
When we read Where the Wild Things Are (which we do at least twice a day), we talk a lot about Max’s feelings. I point out when he and the Wild Things are smiling (happy) and when Max looks mad (when he’s sent to bed without eating anything). We also talk about loneliness when he’s missing home.
The thing I’ve really noticed in the past few weeks is how good Tully feels when she either laughs or makes others laugh; and the fact that she recognizes this and seeks out situations in which she is either laughing or making others laugh is amazing to me. She’s only eighteen months old.
But I think it’s that way for all of us.
And to extend that to writers, that’s part of why we write, isn’t it? To make others feel?
Anyway, I encourage you all to partake in (and help to create) the happiness in which Tully is finding so much joy.
Go forth and tickle!
Technorati Tags: Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, Shanghai, China, Tully, reading, happiness, ode