Amidst all of the negativity around the world, in the news, and around every corner you turn, it’s incredibly hard to envision a happy, socially-healthy future for our children. Racism is still prominent. Religion is still a divide. Even political party affiliation has become a source of hatred and judgement – and I know good and bad people from both sides of that coin. Today, social status seems to hinge on your income and material assets more than the person you are and what kind of contribution you make to society. It’s disheartening, and I fear for our Son’s future. Some would say I focus on all of this stuff too much, but it’s hard not to when its impact is evident all around you. But, over the last 15 months that I’ve been a parent, I discovered that there is a way to get away from it all, if only for a moment – listen to your child’s laughter.
Here is an example. I’m just getting over a cold. It’s that time of year. And, of course, I passed it on to my Son, who has had it now since Saturday. Thinking back to the week that I was sick, I was tired, achy, whiny, and just downright miserable. My wife would agree that I wasn’t the first person you’d want to be around (or the last…or at all..). I’ll admit that I’m one of the biggest whiners when it comes to being sick – I absolutely hate it! My Son, however, seems to take it all in stride. He still claps, dances, shows affection, smiles, and laughs. And I don’t just mean a baby giggle, I’m talking full belly laughs. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, at least that I could decipher, he came running in from the kitchen and over to me while having a full belly laugh. He turned his head and looked back in the kitchen and pointed, as if to show me something, but nothing was there. Again, at least not that I could decipher.
At that point, as I was trying to figure out why he was laughing, I realized that it didn’t even matter. You shouldn’t have to have a reason to laugh. And I realized that, for that fleeting moment that he was laughing, that is all I was focused on. For as terrible as he’s been feeling, whatever caught his eye made him laugh, and therefore forget about the fact that he’s sick and unhappy because of it. It has been said many times that children are our greatest teachers, and I believe that and take this as a lesson. No matter how bad things may seem or be, it’s up to you to make the best of it and find that silver lining. It could always be worse (ingenious thought, I know, but it was really hammered home this time). And yes, I realize that a 15 month old is less of a baby than I am when sick! I know it’s comparing apples to oranges, because at 15 months you’re unaware of what’s happening around you. You have no concept of past or future, and only live in the present, but that’s the point I’m trying to make.
It’s not the first time that his out-of-nowhere laughter has made me forget everything else, but it’s the first time that I realized I shouldn’t be trying to find an explanation for it. Much as they do, just live for that moment, because even with all the bad out there, these moments allow you to get away from it all. As adults, we can no longer live care-free. But, if we choose to live vicariously through our children (the right way), we can often be reminded of what it feels like to be care-free again. It is our job as parents to make our children happy, so listen to your child’s laughter. They’re returning the favor.