Make a silly face, Mama.
There’s a 3 year old on my lap, face forward and cupping my cheeks with her hands. I oblige, raising my eyebrows, sticking out my tongue, and wiggling fingers behind my head like some kind of deranged rooster.
It is morning, and silly faces are our ritual.
Another one! She makes a silly face without even knowing it, bed-headed and sleep-encrusted, puffy eyes. She smushes my cheeks together, forcing my lips forward in a pudgy pout.
This time I attempt to cross my eyes,which I’ve never been successful at- not even with a slow finger to the nose the way so many have instructed me. I end up squinting them, nose crinkly and drawn up, duck lips like the high school girls on Instagram. My daughter, of course, does not appreciate my nod to pop culture but laughs nonetheless.
It’s simple to please her in this way, in this stage of bathtub bubble crowns and piggy back rides through the park.
We have other traditions, too. She drinks from a sippy cup which she calls a baby bottle, and sometimes I indulge her by holding her like and infant and patting her bottom. She makes exaggerated baby noises, Goo Goo and Da. It’s a game we play, both of us knowing she’s too old for this type of behavior.
Lately she’s taken to turning the tables, insisting that I’m the baby and she plays Mama.
Drink your bottle, baby, she sing-songingly says. I stretch myself across her lap and pretend to settle in to sleep.