Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rare smiles and bad jingles

A frustrating old friend of ours made a flying visit yesterday.

We're not talking about a human being here, but rather a silly little jingle that we dreamt up years ago - inclusive of immortal lyrics like, 'Guppies, we're such puppies'. For a brief while, we were so besotted with it that we'd stroll down certain narrow streets in Scotland belting it out. But, somehow, we could never keep the tune properly stored in our heads. Maybe it was so awful our brains revolted. In any case, for years now, we've frequently looked at each other and muttered in unison: "Now how did that puppy tune go again?". Efforts to conjure it out of memory inevitably fail. Then, unsought for and once in a long while, one of us will stand stock still and hum the Jingle - igniting paroxysms of shared glee.

Naturally, seconds later, the tune will vanish from our minds, as though someone had wiped chalk off a blackboard. At best, we might have had time to whistle the tune a time or two. By now, however, we're used to this routine - and simply look forward to the next time the Jingle visits.

Well, since we've had Sonny - all of 12 weeks ago now - it's been by at least twice, no doubt to introduce itself to our son as an old family friend. Sonny even has his own version of the Jingle: It's his smile. Many weeks back, in 'Sonny starts to...', we had reported that the little fella had begun favouring us with sudden gleamings of good humour, which came randomly in his sleep. These days, the smile is more focused: It typically comes as a response to our efforts to engage him by making silly faces, talking to him and so forth. It lasts longer now, too, and sometimes we even get a series of smiles, one after the other.

The thing is, however, these visitations remain utterly inconsistent. Half a day can go by with Sonny poker-faced (if not positively grumpy), despite the best efforts of a whole troupe of people to entice the edges of his lips to turn upwards. Energetic story-telling or the brandishing of colourful and noisy objects will have no effect. At other times, we might be half way through a sober chat when that little ray of sunshine breaks forth.

Sonny has a whole array of other facial expressions, but the smile - apart from its being recognised as a bestowal of approval to the proceedings - is especially treasured by us precisely because of its unpredictability. The suddenness of its arrival still leads us to call out, "Hey, look, he's smiling!", in a way that we will surely come to miss after its appearances becomes more regular and 'logical'.

Although, of course, we'll still have the Jingle to tantalise us.