Taking the World by Scowl

When Leone emerged into the world in a rush of amniotic fluid she was scowling.

James saw a frown on her upside down face even before her body came out.

It was as if she were saying, “What is this place? Where am I? What am I doing here?”

James imitating Leone's frown as she was being born

James imitating Leone’s frown as she was being born

Now that she’s three months old she often has frown lines on her brow.

She’s not a fussy baby.

In fact, she barely cries.

On Sunday I took her to a parent meeting and she spent the two hours smiling, cooing, and drooling. But she still scowls at the world and often looks serious. It’s as if she’s an old soul and she already suspects there may be great injustice in the world.

Then the scowl passes and her eyes crinkle and her whole face smiles.

I wonder what all this frowning is about. I know that a baby’s personality is little, if any, indication of what she’ll be like as a toddler, preschooler, school-aged kid, teenager, or adult. I know the only constant with babies as they grow is change.

But I wonder if Leone will always have a dubious approach to new experiences.

Spluttering amniotic fluid, she let out a lusty cry a few seconds after she was born. James and I laughed and cried with her. She quieted down in less than a minute, naked on my chest, her tiny face pressed against my heart.

This week she learned how to laugh. It started as a guttural plosive “huh!” when James would tickle her stomach or put her toes in his beard. Then her 10-year-old sister was sitting with her reading a funny book and started laughing out loud. Leone looked in surprise at her sister and smiled. The next time Hesperus laughed suddenly, Leone giggled. We’ve been getting her to laugh by surprising her with a giggling face, a peek-a-boo, or a fake sneeze (”ah choo” in a high squeaky voice) ever since.

This baby seems to combine the best of everything: a sense of humor, a patient personality, and an affectionate nature all with a healthy scowly sense of dubiety about this crazy world.

What tricks do you have to make a baby laugh? What does your under one-year-old set find funniest? Share your ideas in the comment section below. I’ll test them on my little scowler and report back next week.


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