Learning the rules of laughter with Annabelle

Annabelle has this crazy game she likes to play.  First, she’ll engage in some sort of verbal back and forth of her own babbling and then at the strangest time will lean in and laugh as hard as possible.  She is just learning the rules of laughter, which is quite interesting and something I hadn’t given much thought to.

The rules of laughter are quite interesting.  Laughter can be used to bond with a person or a group, to make someone feel left out, to make someone feel stupid, to make yourself feel better (laugh at yourself), to laugh at a comedian, or out loud while reading something in a public place that is a bit awkward, and the list goes on.  Laughter is described by Psychologogy Today as “speaking in tongue“, which is a fantastic way to describe it.

Thinking back to the days when I was young, I don’t remember being that young, but when I applied the rules of laughter to cover my hearing loss.  For example, if someone said something and the group burst out laughing, I would often laugh when the group was laughing.  I learned this was a quick and easy way to fit in.  I most certainly did get caught a few times and rather than explain the logical reason why, I tried to play it off which probably made me look even more silly.  Those days though, I’d rather look stupid than admit to people I had a hearing loss.  These days, it’s still second nature to laugh with the group and hard to retrain myself.  Those things you learn as a kid are grounded deeper than anything you’ll learn as an adult.

I digress … Annabelle is learning the rules of laughter now, at such a young age, she already sees how important it is.  We are a happy family, and she is one happy baby.  It’s fun to watch her learn.  When the adults start laughing, she will chime in with her own laugh which is usually louder than everyone else’s and longer as well.  This makes all of us laugh more because she sounds so sincere but we all know its forced because she wants to be included.  Ironically, even though forced it’s still her way of testing out the rules to see what works.  Since we laugh with her, she probably thinks that is an acceptable rule, to laugh louder and longer.  It doesn’t matter though, she’ll learn in time through some other awkward situation and then blame her parents.  After writing these blogs, I keep thinking I need to start saving up money for a therapy fund for her.

Annabelle laughs at the simplest things.  She giggles when we tickle her, when we push her on the swing, when we make funny faces at her.  My new favorite is something she just started a few days ago.  Annabelle likes me to read a book for her called Peekaboo Kisses.  She pulls it out of the bookshelf, comes over and taps me on the leg.  I’ll sit down on the floor and read it to her.  At the very end of the book there is sheet of reflection paper and I say, “Peekaboo Annabelle!”  She leans over, smiles, and then laughs once or twice before kissing her reflection.

I argued with myself whether or not she has self recognition.  Yes is winning.  As far as I can tell, she does recognize herself because there are times,  at other mirrors around the house, she shows signs of being able to idenify who she is.  Anyways, that’s not the point.  The point is that I’m reminded that we are born with a love for ourselves.  We are born without a negative inner voice.  It reminds me that smiling and laughing is something that is innate within ourselves and allows us to express our joy.  It reminds me to laugh a bit more innocently and maybe a little louder and longer too.


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