The Boy’s sense of humour can sometimes be slightly different from his sister’s. Yes, his humour can sometimes be witty and cerebral too; but where he differs is that when he finds a visual gimmick that does the trick, he knows exacty when to pull it out for guaranteed smiles. And that’s what’s great about him: he is aware that he can make people happy just with visual comedy, and he deliberately pulls his tried-and-true tricks out of the hat when he knows that someone is in need of a little positivity.
I’m not saying that our Girl doesn’t try to make us laugh—she does. But we know, and she knows, that she’s got plenty of other things going for her so that she doesn’t need to pull out a cheap visual gag. The Boy, on the other hand, has a sense of self-awareness that he’s got this simple and quick ability to be the sunshine in someone’s day, by doing simple things with his face, or with the help of a costume.
I think the first trick that he realised never failed to elicit laughs was the Lime Face. Of course, all parents love to deliberately give their kids a taste of something awfully sour/bitter/sweet, just to see their cute reaction. And we do it over and over again, especially when company’s over, just to say, “Oh, you gotta watch this! It is too funny!” But it’s much more special when your own child, from about the age of two, makes that realisation himself—that he has the ability to entertain and make people happy—and on purpose pulls it out when he wants to. There have been times when he specifically asks for the wedge of lime because he sees it on the table, then twists and screws his face into his most comical, and says, “Does this make you laugh?”
Since then, he’s discovered a few other sure-laughs, and when the opportunity or props are available, he becomes our comedian. He’s got the crossed eyes, the silly dances, and the Underwear-on-His-Head gag, which he pulled out most recently while watching The Jetsons (“Look at my space helmet!”).
I know that he doesn’t derive as much pleasure out of himself (quite often, he doesn’t even ask for a mirror or a photo) as he does out of seeing someone else smile and laugh. And I know that he doesn’t do things to be in the spotlight for just anybody (in fact, he usually gets quite shy when we ask him to do it for others); rather, he does it to make his family happy.
There is something pretty special about having children who want to be there purely for your entertainment.