Recently, our former exploration secretary stopped by with her one year old daughter. My District Manager is a sucker for kids and my No. 1 geologist is, as well. Well, we got quite the chuckle fit out of her, and, while everyone was beamin’ at the good time, I began to wonder just what she was laughing about.
Nothing overtly humorous to my adult mind was in play - no jokes, as she doesn’t really speak yet - just hand gestures and smiles, and us laughing a lot. While I’m not a parent, I’ve participated in similar kiddie-wind-ups before, and they do seem to be enjoying it all.
I’m also aware that kids in that toddler (1-3) age range will look to adults for cues when something like falling down happens, and a lot of crying and fussing can be avoided if everyone present steers reaction towards the bright side.
And I’ve noticed that when kids’ sense of humor begin to manifest verbally (5-8?), what seems funny to them sometimes doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
That observation has made me wonder whether or not adopting some of the trappings of what they see in adults’ appreciation of humor is part of the transitional learning process; i.e., they learn to laugh, they perhaps learn some timing, etc., before they really grasp humor intellectually.
Related thoughts would include that: a.) I’ve read (sorry - long time ago - no cite) that, while dogs do, apparently, smile, they do so for humans only and not for other dogs (since I have no cite, go ahead and rip into that), thus that behavior may be interpreted as imitation of the humans they’re around and b.) before my mother taught me to read, I remember picking up books and running my eyes along the lines of type, as I’d observed adults doing.
I suppose I’m knocking at the door of the bigger question of how we learn and assimilate behaviors that make us common with our society, but I’ll start with the smaller question:
What makes something funny when you’re one year old?