Covering parenting and child development issues
"The sound of laughter has always seemed to me the most civilized music in the universe." (Peter Ustinov)
Ever since my daughter was little, I have loved the sound of her laughter. The sound of a baby’s giggle inspires an infectious joy, especially when the laughter is accompanied by a toothless, “who, me?” grin. And making a baby laugh is incredibly easy. Find the trick once and it works over and over again.
My daughter is sixteen now, and no longer thinks I’m the funniest mom ever. In fact, she’s more likely to give me a sidelong glance meant to silence me when I try to be funny in public than she is to laugh at my jokes. But recently, she discovered an online comedy channel that she loves to watch on her iPad and often, when I’m in earshot, I hear her laughing at the comedy routines. Sometimes it’s a chuckle, other times a guffaw and occasionally, a full on belly laugh. As when she was smaller, her laughter never fails to make me smile.
Why does our children’s laughter bring us such joy? Aside from its obvious melodic qualities, genuine laughter possesses an innocence and a complete lack of affectation or self-consciousness. These qualities are often hard to find in a teenager who feels constantly under the microscope of peers, parents and the world at large. Often, it’s only when we catch them off-guard, whether by a joke or some absurdity, that we are treated to that beautiful sound.
And despite the fact that adversity builds character, we parents love it when our kids are happy. Unsolicited laughter is evidence of this sometimes elusive emotion, if only for a moment. As our kids grow older, they become more aware of the realities of the world around them, realities that can quash happiness and its expressions, leaving us helpless to offer an antidote.
And so I will continue to revel in my daughter’s revelry. I have no choice; her laughter is contagious. But I don’t mind. Happiness is an emotion that’s worth catching.