May you always see the world through the eyes of a child ...
Have you ever watched a small child when he spots a mirror? It reminds me of a cat walking through a sunbeam that's shining down onto the floor through an open window. They can't resist it.
My cat can be running full-tilt through the living room, yet the minute he first steps into a sunbeam, WHAM!. It's as though someone shot him. He suddenly drops down, stretches, gets comfy and falls into a deep contented sleep within the sunbeam on the living room floor.
Now, if you want to keep a small child entertained for more than a few minutes, sit him or her down in front of a full-length mirror. Be sure to have your camera and film on hand and get ready for some real fun. I tried it with my grandson while I was babysitting and it was priceless.
At first glance, it was a little like making a new friend. There was the tentative first look at the 'other child'. Then he gave him a shy smile. When the smile was returned, and he was feeling bolder, he then went for the basic wave. Next, he turned his back, looked over his shoulder at the kid in the mirror, smiled again, and then stuck out his tongue.
Once this obligatory introduction period was over, he made a whole series of "Can you do this?" moves.
Each new feat was copied, of course, which brought even more complicated face-pulling and body contortions. It didn't take too long before the two were best friends, and then it only got sillier with somersaults, jumping up and down, lifting the shirt and comparing belly buttons, and, well, you'll just have to try it and see for yourself.
For me, the icing on the cake was his wonderful and infectious laughter --and I'm happy to report the experiment was successful and totally captured on film.
I believe my next project to tape in front of a mirror will be Robert shaving. He makes such adorable faces ...
(This essay first published by Useless Knowledge Webzine, May 17, 2004.)