Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wouldn't You Like to Know What's Goin' on in My Mind?

Sometimes I wish I could read Ryan’s mind and figure out what on earth he’s thinking. Last night at dinner, he kept looking back and forth from me, to Herb, to me, to Herb, and then giggling. What exactly did he find so funny? And then after supper, he was crawling around in the living room, and he would go a few feet one way, then stop and sit up and giggle, then turn around and crawl back and stop and sit up and giggle, and then turn around and do it all over again, back and forth and back and forth. He obviously found it amusing, but I’d love to know why.

There are times when he’s studying some object and I know exactly what his thought process is. For example, when he plays with the vacuum cleaner, he pushes it on its side and looks at the wheels for a moment, then reaches out and turns them. He’s obviously figuring out how they move and which way they move. And then he tugs at various parts of it, obviously figuring out what’s attached and what’s not. He’s analyzing how the machine is made and how it works. Sometimes he’ll push different objects (like a ball and a block) down a ramp and anything that doesn’t slide, he picks up and turns over and over in his hand. He understands that some things slide and some things don’t, and he’s trying to figure out how they’re different and what makes that particular object not slide. Those brain processes are obvious and understandable. But the things that make him laugh are often incomprehensible to me.

Laughter is such an unpredictable thing anyway, but with a baby, it’s even less predictable. I remember reading somewhere about why humans find something funny, and it has to do with incongruity and unexpectedness. But to a baby who is just figuring out the world, almost everything seems incongruous or unexpected, and therefore funny! So I guess that’s the simplest explanation of most of Ryan’s laughter. He crawls from one side of the room to the other and suddenly he sees things from a different perspective – unexpected and therefore funny! He looks at the expression on Daddy’s face and it’s not quite the same as the one on Mommy’s face – unexpected and therefore funny! He makes noises with his mouth and when he unthinkingly changes its shape, the sound changes – unexpected and therefore funny!

I’m glad that he finds entertainment and amusement in so many things that I find commonplace. I might even be a little jealous at how much pleasure he gets out of life for no particular reason that I can see. But instead, I think I’ll just try to share in his wonder and amazement at the unexpectedness – and also the humor – of the world around me.

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