Faking It

On December 7, 2001 by Eden M. Kennedy

I am no longer faking an interest in Shakespeare. Jack has been wanting to watch some version of Hamlet for months now and every time we go to the video store and he presents the box to me, I just give him this weary sigh and he puts it back on the shelf. I was trying to work up the spit to do it, I really was, but the other day he said, “You’re not going to ever watch another Shakespeare movie, are you?” I think it was in John Osbourne’s play “Look Back In Anger” where one character says, “Who’s your favorite writer?” and the other guy says, “Shakespeare” and the first guy says, “No one’s favorite writer is Shakespeare!

I started thinking about this because of something a midwife told me when Jackson was just a few weeks old: “The more you smile at him, the more he’ll smile back.” So I spent a couple of months trying to smile at him all the time, and it was working, I guess, until the other day when I looked at him and he gave me this totally strained, fake little smile and I thought, “Oh my god, I’ve turned him into Regis Philbin!” I realized that it’s far more important to be engaged with him (and with everyone) like a real, live human being — happy, sad, or with butter coming out of my ears — than it is to pretend everything’s jolly until the day he realizes that I’m a complete and utter nincompoop.

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