Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A real stand-up kid

There's definitely something of the entertainer in our son's blood; a desire to seize the attention of others, by fair means or foul.

This trait has become especially pronounced now that he is - at just over 10 months of age - able to push free of any support and stand unaided. Not for very long, mind you: He teeters on the brink of disaster from the get-go. And he can't even begin to take his first step: It's an entirely immobile affair.

Still, the little fella sure knows how to milk his moment to maximum effect. Before unveiling his new trick, he will typically unleash a yell or bark so the audiences can "roll up, roll up", as they said of carnival acts in old books. Then he dramatically frees himself of the wall or rail that he used to pull himself to a standing position. None of this half-crouching business: Sonny presents himself utterly erect, as though ready to march down a thoroughfare. His two arms are outstretched in the manner of high-wire artists. It's so choreographed you wouldn't be surprised if fireworks burst overhead.

After a few seconds, of course, the audience is treated to a baby toppling to the floor, which can be a bit of an anticlimax, though Sonny can sometimes manage to sit down suddenly instead (which is rather more dignified). At times, presumably pleased with the reception (though Mum and Pa are a little weary of the show and may clap with less than fulsome enthusiasm), the little fella will treat everyone to an encore performance. We are led to wonder where he learned his advanced showmanship. Could it be that the other babies at the infant care centre go about showboating, each trying to upstage the other in a frenzy of toddler-level entertainment?

Or is there something innate to being human that just loves attention, the spotlight and the huzzahs of others? After all, we are social beings, aren't we, and part of being social is delighting each other - whether with witty conversation, party tricks or tall tales. There's no need to import "power" analyses that see such displays as ways of stamping one's dominance, exhibiting one's superiority or cowing competitors. Showing off can be an innocent thing, in other words - at least, we certainly hope so, as we settle back for another of command performance of Sonny-Stands-Unaided.

(Showing now for a limited period only. Tickets by arrangement. Please contact Mum and Pa for reservations. Performer may choose to cancel without explanation given. Strictly no discounts.)