Tonight Annie came up to me carrying a magazine, placed it on my lap, and pointed to the open page.
“I like her face, Dada!”
I looked down and did a double take. This is the what she was pointing to:
That’s right. Annie was pointing to an ad for antidepressant medication.
“Uh,” I stammered. “You like her face?”
I paused a second, trying to figure out how to approach this.
“Tell me, Annie. Do you think she’s happy or sad?”
“Sad! That’s why I like it!”
Somewhere off in the background I heard the strains of the Psycho theme playing.
Okay, not really, but this wasn’t a totally isolated incident. Annie always laughs when someone cries on one of her kid shows, and she thinks it’s hilarious when I pretend to cry. She often comes up to me and says, “Cry, Dada! Cry!” And when I boo-hoo she doubles over, cackling.
She doesn’t always find this kind of stuff funny, though. In the rare instance that she’s in the room when someone on TV is crying in a serious context (such as on the news, Dateline, or a talk show) she doesn’t laugh. Instead, she watches, very serious, then quietly says, “She’s sad, Dada.”
Obviously, Annie is starting to understand emotions, and all of this is just part of the process. To be sure, though, and to make sure she isn’t a little Norma Bates, I gave her a test as I tucked her into bed.
“Annie, what do you like most… when Mommy is happy or sad?”
“I like when Mommy is happy.”
“What about me? Do you like it best when I’m happy or sad?”
“And James? Do you like it when he’s happy or sad?”
“I don’t like it when he’s sad. That’s why I hug him!”
I smiled and kissed her forehead.
“Alright, Sweetie. Go to sleep.”
Annie passed my test, but I still think she’s a little weirdo for laughing when people cry.