Do it on my butt!

July 10, 2011

Last night during Shabbat dinner, the five year old child of one of the rabbis here in camp came up to my table. A couple of us were teasing her by tapping her on the shoulder when she wasn’t looking. She really liked this and kept telling us to “do it on my back.” This evolved into a game where she would say “do it on my back” and I would pretend not to understand some aspect of the instruction, no matter how explicit she tried to make it. The more dense I pretended to be, the more the child became frustrated and amused until she was literally rolling on the floor with laughter yelling “DO IT ON MY BACK!” Eventually I ‘caught on’ and tapped her on the back. Then it was “do it on my tummy”, I poked her tummy, “do it on my head”, I poked her head. Then “do it on my butt”. Now, I wasn’t sure whether it would be appropriate or not to poke this child, with whose family I am only slightly acquainted, on her butt, so I demurred, but the child kept insisting, calling out more and more loudly “DO IT ON MY BUTT!” in the middle of the staff dining room, much to the embarrassed amusement of my table-mates and I. Eventually someone else at the table acquiesced and poked the girl on her butt, and she began delightedly crying out “You did it on my butt,” again much to the puerile amusement of our whole table. It became difficult to hold it together when she began gesturing with her finger towards her own butt to indicate the action that was “done”, resulting in what she could not realize was quite a lewd gesture.

There is something as disconcerting as it is hilarious about small children innocently saying and doing things that, coming from an adult, would be simply obscene. I hope my friends and I didn’t skew this poor child’s worldview too much with our poorly masked amusement at her childish phraseology and antics. With any luck she’ll have forgotten the whole incident before she gets to the age when elementary school kids begin to titter at every variation on the phrase “do it”.

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