01/22/2015 04:00 pm ET

The Mimic

Cornelia Schauermann via Getty Images

Everyone tells you that babies and children are natural mimics, that this is how they learn. So you sit down with your child and repeat the same actions over and over: You clap your hands, you snap your fingers, you blow kisses. Like vacuum cleaners, they suck it all up. The repetition feels good for you, too; you know that eventually, there will be a reward. When, after hundreds of tries, they finally get it -- the first time they smile when you smile -- it’s almost overwhelming.

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