|Ben, chuckling, at about three months old|
Genuine, spontaneous laughter.
Ben and I have been more in touch the last three weeks than the last several years. There are lots of reasons for the long silences, just as there are lots of reasons why we are suddenly talking and emailing so much. I am grateful, not analytical. Ben generated the call last night and was so talkative that I hung up with tears in my eyes, I was that happy.
His outburst of laughter triggered a memory of Ben's early days of laughing.
I chronicled a lot of my children's early lives. Ben more so than Sam, because when there is only one child, it is much easier to mark down the milestones and the "firsts." (Sorry, Sam.) And because I did chronicle so much, I know that Ben laughed first on February 10, 1986, when his father shook a pair of baby sweat pants over him. Per my notes, Ben "kept breaking into chortles."
That was not the memory of first laughter I had, but mine is similar in vein. I remember hauling up one baby and a basket of clean laundry to our second floor apartment. I put Ben on his back in the middle of our bed while I folded and stacked laundry all around him. I picked up one of a multitude of "burp rags," this one a long, gauzy kind, to fold. As I shook it out, it floated above Ben, who proceeded to let out a string of laughs.
I whisked the cloth back and forth above him, almost grazing his forehead. Ben's eyes widened and his laughter spilled out. We played the "whisking burp rag" game for several minutes until Ben giggled and chuckled himself to sleep, napping amidst the laundry.
J. M. Barrie wrote in Peter Pan, "When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."
Barrie was on the right track. A baby's first laugh is so full of wonder and delight that it breaks into a thousand blessings, and they all skip about about filling our hearts and lives with joy.
To hear Ben's laughter last night—unforced, natural, heartfelt—brought back that long ago little baby laughing and giggling a thousand blessings into my life.
Ben and Alise are just starting out with Ramona. She is still so new and unacquainted with the world that laughter probably isn't on her agenda yet. But Ben is laughing and, while he laughed, I could hear Alise in the background with rich laughter in her voice. Ramona will catch on soon enough.
|Sleeping Ramona, at about two weeks old|