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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5 thoughts on “Taking the World by Scowl”

  1. You do such a beautiful job of capturing the beauty and wonder of babyhood. I feel like I missed a lot of it with my own because of my PPD, so it’s been so nice to read about all of these wonderful moments that I no longer remember and may not even have registered in the first place. I do remember that my daughter, as a baby, laughed at surprises… like making a funny noise as you take a toy away and hide it and then suddenly have it reappear.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..Life is a Struggle, a Wonderful Struggle =-.

  2. My third child was like Leone. Baby photos always show her with a scowl. She is now a very serious adult, happy but thoughtful still.

    I remember producing peals of laughter from my babies while they were lying on their back, when I made a cootie-catcher with my fingers, advancing the fingers from a distance towards their bellies.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Revving Up for a Cape Cod Valentine … =-.

  3. Our daughter has always been mellow and rarely cried. She also rarely smiled and laughed under a year of age, though we knew she was content. The only guarantee for a smile or laughter was our dog and the way our dog responds to a tennis ball. Sometimes she giggles uncontrollably just watching the dog play with the ball.

  4. Our lil guy thought it HILARIOUS when we would pretend to be looking off in the distance, uninterested ho hum ho hum, and then would come in quick toward his face with an animated “SUDDENLY!” – cracked him up over and over…

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