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The Best Medicine

LaughingOne of the great joys of parenthood (beyond the significant tax benefits) is deciphering the mystical code that elicits that angelic sound: baby laughter.  In my compendium of sounds [The Frantz Audiofon], baby laughter definitely ranks in the top ten, standing tall besides the greats of kitty mews and the voice of Bronson Pinchot, specifically as voiced in Perfect Strangers.  It’s so amazing that occasionally we’ll call folks during a Justine laughing fit and not say anything at all, instead letting the power of baby laughter reach through the phone and envelop the listener.

I’m happy to report that Justine’s first laughter that wasn’t in her sleep (which, I assume, was only because she was dreaming about my legendary wit) was elicited by me only a few months into her young life.  Way back then (like, 6 months ago), getting the laughter from Justine was a mostly random affair, and when it did happen, the conversation always went like this:

Kim:  Was that her laughing?

Mark:  Possibly.  Or she’s coughing.

Kim:  Well, what did you do?

Mark:  Blew my nose.

Kim:  Hmmm.

The first laugh I can recall came as a result of me throwing something up in the air and catching it.  Admittedly, this is an amazing feat for anyone to accomplish, and the fact that I was doing it, and doing it REPEATEDLY must’ve struck a chord with her, and the laughter literally and slowly bubbled out of her.  Or she was sick.  Hard to say.
As time marched on, we started to identify certain things that would stoke the laughter from our young daughter.  Kim discovered the classic “tummy raspberry” during a diaper change could get her going, and that Cookie Monster is a definite winner.  Recently, we discovered that when Kim says the word “No” and shakes her head, Justine breaks down into hysterical laughter.  This does not bode well for the future.

I have a method to generating laughter – I call it “the Windup.”  It can be done several different ways, but it basically consists of three parts, repeated over and over again.  The first step is to gather some object that can be easily tossed in the air.  I’ve used plastic balls, shirts, cats, etc.  Safety is certainly a factor, so at this point the clubs are not set aflame.  The second step is to touch said object to Justine’s nose, and then toss it in the air.  Catch it, touch her nose, throw it in the air.  Repeat ad infinitum.  Finally, some sort of sound effect needs to be added to denote the rhythm of the whole thing – I tend towards the boops, but occasionally will go with an eek or a wahwah.

At first, she’ll smile, a little surprised to have something touch her nose.  Then, as the process is repeated over and over, she just starts bursting into unbridled laughing happiness, the kind of laughter that warms your heart, brought down the Berlin Wall and blew up the second Death Star.

There is a catch though – I’ve discovered that she finds the whole thing amazingly hilarious as long as you achieve perfection in doing it.  The moment you drop the ball or miss her face, the laughter stops.  The wide smile trims back to a polite “how nice,” and the enthusiasm drops from unbridled to bemused.  It is possible to re-stoke the laughter, but it requires the slow build-up again.

I’ve got to face facts – there’s a small chance that my daughter is a perfectionist – something I most certainly am not.  While there are many career paths available to perfectionists (gymnastics judge, figure skating judge, equestrian judge, etc.) it still worries me that she may be in for a rough life, especially living with me.

Then again, she still craps in her diaper and sits in it, so she can’t want everything perfect.

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