Jonah and I have a ton of time during the day to play and explore and generally get on each other’s nerves.
My main method of getting him to play with me is this: I lie on the floor and wait for him to pounce.
In Jonah’s world, anything on the floor is fair game. Toys, shoes, remote controls, and dog droppings all come into his realm and remain there, indefinitely, until he becomes interested in something else or when he’s sleepy. It is his right and his duty to catalog and inspect such objects. Thus, when I lie on the floor, it his invitation to investigate this strange new item.
As I await his appearance on my chest, my mind sometimes wandered, which was incredibly dangerous. Jonah increased his girth to the point where he could actually cause severe and permanent damage to any sensitive part of my body, including, but not limited to, my eyes, gums, cuticles, and skin. (You may have another sensitive body part that you can imagine him injuring. Are you imagining? Yep. He’s injured that, too). Thus, any activity that distracted from a hyper-vigilant awareness of his exact location introduced a danger to mi propio carne, if you know what I mean.
At the time of his arrival onto my chest, he had usually been playing around for a good half hour, making use of the toys scattered about the living room. Thus, he was in a nirvana of investigation, a “crawler’s high” not unlike the excited energy found in most crack houses and all nursery school playrooms.
Imagine his round head, rising from the side of my torso—like the Phoenix from the ashes—smiling, drooling, and babbling. He would begin his investigation by lightly slapping my chest, then harder, then harder again. I never thought I’d get a “pink belly” after leaving Middle School, but Jonah regularly slapped me hard enough to rival those Middle School bullies. As he increased the intensity of his slaps, he closed his fists, and continued beating on my belly. Toward the end of his recital, it sounded like a Kettle Drum was being played in our living room.
As I caught my breath and wiped the tears from my eyes, he’d climb on top of my belly and sit down. Jonah recognized the face, so he felt like it was his right to investigate. About this time, as he reached out to slap me upside the coconut, I would divert his attention by sticking out my tongue. (I have learned that Jonah’s first effort at investigation is a good, firm slap. I’m glad he hasn’t started investigating pudding).
The tongue, for Jonah, was an amazing thing. When I revealed that I have a tongue, Jonah’s face had an indescribable look of complete wonder. To verbalize the look, it’s like he was saying, “What in the world is going on with this guy’s face? Is anyone else catching this? That is sticking out of the middle of his head. I think I’ll slap him.”
Instead of slapping me, though, he would try to grab my tongue. As he reached for it, I would put it back in my mouth. He would retreat. I would stick out my tongue again. He would reach for it again, and I would put it back in my mouth. He would retreat. This was repeated a couple more times before Jonah decided to investigate.
His investigations went something like this: He would take his index finger—with its razor-sharp fingernail—and curl my bottom lip down, cutting a quarter-inch gash into my gums. He would laugh and let go. He went back to my mouth, looking for that tongue, but he would get to the teeth the next time and pry open my mouth. Hey, maybe Jonah should work for the rescue squad as a “jaws of life.” Anyway, he would get to my tongue and try to rip it out of my head.
After he was done with my tongue, he noticed that I have a nose. Here’s where Jonah brought the pain. He was remarkably quick, especially since he just recently discovered that he could control the use of his arms and hands. As I recover from bleeding gums and a bruised uvula, Jonah would savagely place his entire fist in my right nostril, giggling uncontrollably. He loved it. His laughing increased, reaching a crescendo when he was “elbow deep.”
At this point, I would grab his little arm because I fear that he might leave permanent scratches. Before I could get his arm out of my nose, he would slap my brain and then laugh.