Are you familiar with the Charlie Chaplin quote, “A day without laughter is a day wasted”? The quote hung on my roommate’s wall during college, and my pre-child-self reflected on the truth of that statement whenever life got too serious.
Mr. Chaplin reminds us to live with less agenda, more soul, and a whole lotta focus on what matters most. You know, memory-making stuff like creating alphabet pancakes or using every single pillow in the house to build a fort or taking a BBQ picnic to watch the sunset.
Jealousy isn’t generally my thing, but the sound of laughter ringing in the air gets me green: What’s the joke? Can you tell it again? Can I be your new BFF? In a room full of people, I’m gonna gravitate toward the laughers, the jokesters and the deep-down guffawers. Knock knock!
Lucky for me, my husband is the funniest person I know. Our marriage stands on a foundation of inside jokes, and laughter-worthy commentary flows like Niagara when we’re together. All that soul-fulfilling laughter? It’s part of what makes our marriage so special.
So I love laughing, and I’m grateful to sit around doing nothing but making jokes with my husband. But how does a newborn fit into that lifestyle? Max doesn’t get jokes, but he DOES demand about 99.9 percent of our time. Do we give up the laughing gig for a bit? Or do we keep the giggle a day and just, you know, change the subject matter a little?
The first week home with Max was tough. If you’re a new parent, then you get it: the all-day nursing, the seemingly-endless diaper changes, the stream of spit-up, and the laundry that never quits. Can someone please hold the baby, so I can shower? And oh, um, when was the last time I ate? What time is it? Will the baby ever sleep?
How’d we make it through? LOL, folks. On night five, we spent a couple hours trying to get Max asleep, and then we crawled into bed feeling victorious and, ya know, like we were getting the hang of this thing. As soon as our eyes shut, however, WAHHHHHHHH rang out from the nursery.
And so, the care-cycle continued: Max ate, pooped his pants, peed on the wall, and threw up in my bed within the next 20 minutes. Jon dubbed Max the new roommate 10 minutes after that mega-explosion/sleep-disruption.
A roommate that poops his pants and pukes in my hair and pees on the floor? Craigslist, how did you let us down so? At least the new guy didn’t leave his dirty dishes in the sink. The jokes began to flow. Humor was going to get us through, again.
I take parenting classes at a mother-baby center called Amma. My teacher there, Anya, refers to the first three months of an infant’s life as a fourth trimester because the babe requires so much attention and care. At 3 months, however, the little one becomes alert enough to interact, keep calm and be your best friend. Her words proved true in my case.
And so, at the magical three months, I decided to make Max a part of our laughing tribe. My plan? Operation Make Him Laugh Every Single Day. I love the sound of his baby giggles, and so this mission was a definite win-win. Welcome to the family, baby Max!
My happy babe makes it easy to succeed at my mission, but I’ve found seven nearly fool-proof way to induce the giggles. Feel free to use these ideas in a bind or whenever you wanna hear the sweetest sound of all:
- Silly faces and impressions. There is a 75 percent chance Max will giggle if you contort your face like blow-fish or pretend to slurp spaghetti. There is a 100 percent chance he’ll laugh if you add sounds to your madness: HO-HO-HO like Santa, OWW-OWW-OWW like Humpty Dumpty, or sing about The Grand Old Duke of York while babe bounces on your knee.
- Play catch! Not with the babe, of course, but with a dog. I settle Max in my lap, and then I throw the ball around for our dog, Kinzie, to retrieve. My little guy finds it hilarious that Kinzie will go run after the ball again and again and again and … you get it.
- 3 … 2 … 1 … Lift off! Max loves going for an airplane ride on my feet. (I lie on my back with my feet in the air, and his belly is on my soles.) I sing, “We go around and around and around, and we STOP!” And he rewards with me the biggest, brightest smile.
- Shake it! The sillier you dance—hands in the air, bum circling round, and lots and lots of gorilla imitations—the louder babe is gonna laugh.
- Moving toy sticks. We play with this during tummy time, and the little feet make Max giggle like he’s front-and-center at Jerry Seinfeld.
- Peekaboo! Max goes wild when he thinks he’s truly hidden himself from us. When we discover him, after lots and lots of “Where’s Max!?” he thanks us with a giggle or three.
- Neck kisses. If all else fails, find babe’s tickle spot, and load up on kisses and raspberries.