The newborn has his first tooth. He’s basically all runny nose and drool. Oh so much drool. There’s so much fun in the first tooth. His tongue is almost always hanging out of mouth, moving along the gum line feeling the texture of his new addition. More teeth are starting to crest too, making for a kid that goes from very happy to very upset very quickly. Teething must be awful.
With the single tooth grin of a tiny person lighting up the house again, my wife and I have been spending extra time just staring at the little guy. We do the whole “constantly look at baby ’cause he’s adorable and thank goodness he took after his mom because her genetics are way cuter than dad’s” thing all the time, you know, like parents do. But with the sharp new tooth in his mouth we’re dedicating more time to making him laugh.
It is in these make-him-laugh experiments that I have found the three types of smiles our newborn possesses.
The first smile is the greatest of all. This is the mouth wide open, grin from ear to ear, eyes squished to nearly shut and a high pitch squeal originates from somewhere within him that is made of joy, candy and dreams of a future yet to be. I call this smile the “Brother has entered the room!” Only the firstborn can bring about happiness of such a divine level for the baby. All the firstborn has to do is enter a room or play peek-a-boo and the baby just lights up. Of course I never have my camera ready for this moment, making it the Sasquatch of smiles. One day it will be photographed and the internet will explode.
The second smile is the one I get most often. I call it the “placating dad until he gets me food” smile. I’ll make a sound, play peek-a-boo, give him food, ready the bottle, talk a lot, make silly sounds and all for the result of a half smile and a raised eyebrow. The eyebrow is directly inherited from his mother. For the longest time in my relationship with my wife I knew to stop talking when her right eyebrow bent in the middle and pointed upward. Some people have body language, but my wife has eyebrow language. The boys inherited this rather interesting feature and when I’m doing something they find strange (even an eight month old can tell me to take it down a peg or two by way of eyebrow now) eyebrows bend and smiles become forced. With the newborn, the placating dad until he gives me food smile is a means of letting me know that yes indeed he finds me funny, but there is something else we need to be doing now so let’s move it along.
The third smile is my favorite. He is full of life when he sees his brother, and very entertaining when giving me a look that will reappear when he’s thirteen, but the third smile is full of wonder. When he looks around a new place he is stone faced. He takes in the entire area, maps every bit of it and commits it to memory. He looks at every light bulb, every window, every doorway like he’s finding an exit plan and then looks over each and every face in the room. This takes all of ten seconds and when he takes it all in, does his own little threat assessment, his face lights up. He’s safe, he’s happy, and he smiles. There’s no laugh like when he wants me to hurry up. There’s no squeal like when he’s playing with his brother. There’s just pure bliss on a tooth showing smile that says he likes where he is and wants to play now. If there’s a recognizable face in the room, he’ll lean to that person in his own way of saying, “I want to play with you now.” That smile will stay on his face until either needs food or is tired of drooling. He never tires of drooling.
One tooth grins do not last too long, but they sure are amazing.