Dear native English reader

If you are at all interested in languages and in the art of translating - and if you would be prepared to help me improve this translation -
I will need to provide you with some background information. For this I graciously invite you to read my exposition
‘On translating Dutch (1).’  Among other things you will then be equipped to help me improve the following sentences from Chapter II:

1. Kees played along with her childishness.

2. The father laughed at Kees again, and, somewhat at a loss, they squeezed hands once more.

Desired improvement: how could a note of helplessness be added to the first sentence. In the second one this has been done by intercalating 'somewhat at a loss' for the Dutch particle 'maar.' (Is there a better way to do this?) In the first one the helplessness present in the Dutch sentence is absent in the translation. Also, is there another (better) way, a better verb perhaps, to render: 'shaking hands as a formal greeting, but without actually doing any shaking'? The verb 'clasp' won't do, because then the sense of 'formal greeting' is lost.

Kind regards, Bas   (bvoorhoeve@hetnet.nl -  Subject: TC)