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Daddy Get the Tummy!

Maddie has a fascination with her belly button that I’m sure is shared with most toddlers her age. She’s got a Sandra Boynton book, The Belly Button Book, which is a favorite of hers. And as I’ve mentioned before, Maddie loves showing her belly button off, especially to firemen.

But nothing compares on Maddie’s Joys of the Belly List with Daddy Getting the Tummy.

Maddie will walk shyly up to Daddy sitting on the couch, lift her shirt slightly, and say, “Daddy get the tummy!” “I’m sorry, what’d you say? I can’t hear you so far away!” he’ll respond. Maddie will take one step closer and say even more quietly, “Daddy get the tummy!” “I still can’t hear you – come closer!” And then finally, eyes wide with anticipation, “Daddy get the tummy, please!” “Oh, did you say, get the tummy?” and he grabs her, covering her belly with kisses as she squeals with delight.

From that moment forward in the game, she won’t even have to say a thing. She’ll just smile and lift her shirt temptingly and the Tummy Monster is off. She will run away, screaming, allow herself to be caught and smothered, and when placed down, will simply say, “More please!”

As cute as this is – and as much as I enjoy watching the two of them together – my favorite part of all this is not the obvious: not the joy and squeals of delight. The best part of the whole thing to me is that Maddie knows what she wants, and asks for it. She hasn’t yet hit that age where she hints around or worse, manipulates and pretends one thing while wanting another. She knows of something that will bring her joy, and she asks for it, that simple.

I guess it falls under the “Still Not Smart Enough to Lie” category. She certainly has no fear asking for things that will probably be denied, like permission to stand on a chair or getting back a toy that was taken away for discipline. Perhaps she figures, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And her requests are so stream-of-consciousness that I can often tell exactly what she’s going to ask for before she makes the request, simply by playing with her and seeing what catches her attention.

And I guess that in a way, she is being coy about what she really wants. When she asks for the Tummy Monster she is asking for all of Daddy’s attention, and for physical affection and snuggling. So in that respect she is learning to manipulate a bit, I suppose.

But part of her request is simply that she likes the way a stomach raspberry feels, and that makes me happy.


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