Sunday, December 21, 2008

Learning to laugh

We've mentioned before that Sonny can be a cheery fellow, dispensing smiles liberally when the mood is upon him (and as long as nobody is trying to take a photograph; click here for more on his adversarial relationship with cameras).

Recently, however, he's progressed to the next level of humourdom: He's begun to giggle. Not only that, he's even learned to giggle in response to someone giggling. Just the other day, he and Pa had a few good minutes mutually sparking chuckles. Of course, it quickly became a pretty empty exercise: There wasn't really anything funny for us to be giggling at. Still, it was a pretty good simulation of a great leap on the part of the little fella: The ability to first apprehend a specific situation, then discern in it something specifically amusing about it.

Anyway, the mildly puzzling episode set us thinking about whether Sonny could actually have been practising to laugh. Now, we haven't boned up on any deep sociological studies regarding this, but the whole concept seems odd, somehow: One can practise to stand or walk (the little fella is hard at work on the former), even to talk. But if this is a case of a baby simply mimicking what his parents or other adults are doing, then his giggling sounds are of no more consequence than his shaking a rattle because of the odd sound it makes or licking a piano pedal on account of the cool sensation on the tongue.

Suppose, however, there's something about laughing that is hard-wired into the human psyche, so that - once we stumble upon some of the specific neurological and thought-muscle subroutines that trigger a chuckle - it makes us feel good. We want to laugh some more, and so we start off simply making the relevant sounds, but pretty quickly adapt to the thoughts and activities that best spark them.

We're not trying to overthink all this. After all, spontaneity is a key ingredient to a really good chuckle. But it's nice to know that Sonny could be acquiring another of the truly human traits that make us who we are... even if at the moment, he hasn't a clue about what he's actually doing.


Shirley said...

Hahahaha! Love the fact that sonny has started to embark on the journey of discovering laughter. He'll probably realise that whenever he laughs, the adults around him will laugh too and that will encourage him to continue laughing even when there's really nothing to laugh at. It does make them feel good too!

Cloudsters said...

That's true, Shirley. He can be our laugh therapist even without even knowing what laughter is all about.