They will tell you that the kid isn’t smiling. They will tell you that it’s impossible, that no baby in the world is capable of floating a serious grin up into your hovering face.
“It’s just gas,” they say. “Babies don’t smile. They can’t.”
I just nod my head when someone says this to me.
“Yes, yes, of course,” I mutter.
But inside my mind, in the alternate reality that thankfully exists just behind my relentless unibrow, I am not agreeing with any knucklehead telling me something like that. Not at all. In fact over in my other world, whenever someone tells me that a baby smiling is just some anticlimactic gas storm rising up out of their innards, what I do is I immediately land a super tight roundhouse kick on their left ear.
Or their right one, depending on where they’re standing and whatnot.
I know that it’s wrong of me to even think about stuff like that, but who cares? I have spent the majority of my life wading through a bog of wrong-headed thinking. It’s not so easy to just turn that switch off, you know?
The thing is, I don’t care what the experts say or what the parenting sheep believe; I think that babies have a magical power that enables them to feel a bit of joy and happiness from the moment they’re born. Hell, they were probably even feeling good about things every now and then even from the time they were about 6 or 7 months in the womb.
And if that’s the case, if I am thoroughly convinced (and I am, you see) that even newborn bambinos feel a little giddy when they are bathing in a familiar voice or when they are having their baby fat legs/stumps massaged, then why in the world would I NOT believe that it is entirely possible for a genuine smile to be born on even the youngest among us?
Look, no one has ever really proven scientifically that all baby smiles are gas. And I doubt anyone has even tried, really. Even if they did have some major research to back up their findings I still wouldn’t believe it, I don’t think.
Wanna know why?
Well, let’s consider the top three things that make all human people smile, shall we?
1. Profound Happiness, Joy, Elation and/or Drunkenness
See that short list of good feelings? Well, I suspect that wee babies do in fact feel these things. And often, too. Jeez, I know I would be happy if my life was one unopposed cycle of sleeping and eating and crapping, so why wouldn’t a baby be thrilled about his or her lazy days of being catered to and comforted on demand?
Plus, when you throw in the wobbly-eyed look of a recently well-fed infant, I am almost 80 percent certain that there is some form of very real drunkenness happening there. The signs are unmissable: the drifting off, the slobbering, the incoherent rambling. Babies are happy little drunks, people. And like it or not, that makes them smile … a lot.
Yes, this one seems cliche and a given, but so what?
It is what it is.
Everyone likes to be loved, no matter who you are. And if you think that newborns and young children haven’t zoned in on that yet because their minds aren’t able to pick up the vibes or whatever, well, you haven’t been holding enough babies lately. Love is an aura, it’s a haze; love is a physical warmth that emanates from your chest directly into a baby’s face and heart every single time you pull them close. Think of it all like this: It’s like the long-term damage your cellphone probably does to you when you hold it up to you head, only it’s wonderful instead of horrific.
Babies smile when they feel love. If you think they don’t, well, I think the burden of proof ought to be on you.
Ta-dah! Okay okay, so here’s where Old Mr. Gas gets his just due. Listen, even though there is nothing graceful or likable about someone over the age of, say 3 or 4, ripping off a massive belch or a fart anywhere within a mile of anyone else’s earshot, the fact remains that when we are able to release said pent-up gases from our bodies … we feel damn fine, ya’ll.
It’s pretty darn natural now, isn’t it?
You let the poison out and you feel that much better instantaneously. It’s one of this physical life’s nicest little private moments, because it makes us feel good. Which leads us to the question, “What do we often do when we feel good?” Yup, we smile. And guess what? So do babies. Sure there is a correlation between a baby’s momentary burst of smiling and gas. That’s a no-brainer. But surely the real link, in my humble and totally unscientific mind anyway, is that releasing gas, or knowing they are about to, really gets babies off.
It makes them excited and ecstatic to somehow realize in the back of their teeny baby brains that, in this weird, crazy world they’ve been thrust into, it is entirely possible, if only for brief fleeting moments of time, to feel awesome about dumb stuff like burping.
And that is enough to make them smile.
I can almost guarantee it.
Image: S. Bielanko