On the night before Abby turned three months old, I tried something out with her I'd never done before: a game of Peek-a-boo. Somehow, I'd never thought to do it before then, and while I expected a little smile out of her in response (since babies supposedly go for Peek-a-boo), I was not prepared for the reaction I got. She let out a guffaw from deep in her belly, as her eyes sparkled with mirth.
So it was that Abby laughed for the first time. Not one to enter into anything new just halfway, she skipped the giggle and went straight for the Belly Laugh. To this day, her laughter is of the deep and hearty sort when truly inspired.
When Michael came along, I was fully prepared for him to follow his own timeline, but I still began to seek out that first laugh when his three-month birthiversary rolled around. Impatient to hear it on the day of, I tried several games of Peek-a-boo, to no avail. Finally, it occurred to me to take a different approach. I planted some raspberries on his bare belly during changing time and got my wish: genuine laughter.
Michael's sound was and is quite different- more wild and manic sounding- but epically contagious. Pair that with his 400-watt smile and he's sure to set a room to swooning. Nowadays, the easiest route to that beautiful sound is a silly song or dance for his benefit, but he's quick to reward you if you put in the effort.
Then, along came Mia. She's been a tough nut to crack. Though she's quite talkative when she wishes to be, you've got to catch her in the right mood. The same has been true for her tendency to smile. As for laughter, I've been waiting and waiting to hear her special brand.
Just as with Abby and Michael, I tried Peek-a-boo at three months. No luck. The day after, I tried belly raspberries. I got the shyest of giggles. That was the most that I could coax out of her for many days. I just couldn't seem to find her "magic button."
It was Tom who solved the puzzle this afternoon. I was around the corner from the two of them when I heard the unmistakable sound of infant cackling, and my heart paused. "How did you do it?!" I demanded of Tom, but he was too engrossed to really notice my question. I knew the answer already, anyway, as I'd heard the exchange. Tom had been mock-laughing, and Mia had decided that this was the most hilarious thing she'd ever seen.
It was so simple- all I had to do was model the process for her!
The execution was not so easy as I thought it would be. When Tom got up from his seat to grab something for Michael, I took up his position and tried my hand. I found that it was not so easy to force out laughter, and Mia saw through my discomfort. She didn't even smirk at my attempts.
My elder two saw the humor in my struggle, though, and as they got to laughing on either side of me, I loosened up a little bit. I pulled back, preparing, then burst into Mia's view with the silliest face I could muster, complete with side effects. That did it. Heavenly laughter. However, try as I might, I could not recreate it to her exacting standards.
It occurred to me that perhaps it was the sound, "Bwah!" more than the face, that she found amusing, so I built a fake laugh around it, and began to get results. Between giggles, Abby started to asking me, "Mommy, what are you saying?"
"Boo-ha-ha-ha-ha!" I replied, with wild and crazy eyes. She squealed with joy each time, but continued to question me. It was not a sufficient answer. I considered the point further. "It's my evil laugh," I said finally.
As you'll find when you watch the video, it's more silly than evil, but one thing is for sure: it works for Mia.
And Mia's laughter (an apparent blend of the sounds of her two siblings) sure works for me.