My six year old approached me this morning with what seemed by her facial expression to be an important and serious question. Why couldn’t she tickle herself, she asked. Her fingers danced without effect around her neck as her little eyebrows remained perplexed and crooked.
I don’t know, I answered. I honestly didn’t. But I told her I had an idea but I could only whisper it to her as this was the most secretest secret ever. As she slowly approached (smelling a rat and smirking suspiciously) I seized her onto my lap and tickled her neck mercilessly until she screamed with laughter. When she was completely out of breath, repeating after me that I was the greatest Dad in the whole world, and begging for mercy I finally relented and sat her up.
“I think you can’t tickle yourself because God wants me to tickle you,” I said. “And maybe just maybe God knew that if we could tickle ourselves we’d never do anything else. And you’d miss out on all the fun of tickling your brother and sisters.”
Her eyes lit up and she launched herself from my lap and ran off into the play room from where shortly after emanated insane and breathless laughter from her little brother.
It seems to me that so much of this world calls us out of ourselves and points us away from ourselves and in the direction of others. The world calls us quite simply to love. And to tickle.