Charlie, my grandson, is about to be one year old, and that makes my heart laugh. The anniversary brings happiness to his parents, because they have had the privilege of seeing their child’s smile, hearing his cry, vocalization, and attempts at words, every day of the year.
Sadly, the June 1 anniversary also marks a year since the death of Charles King, Charles’ namesake. But I believe Monsignor is able, and especially happy, to watch the growth of this beautiful boy. I know he prays Charles will grow up to be a significant person in the Church we all love.
Charlie is a sweet baby with gentle eyes, a natural affinity for music, and some of the huskiest thighs known in Toddler-land.
But one of Charlie’s most endearing characteristics is not so much his eyes and thighs, but his wonderful baby laugh.
“He makes us earn it,” says Andrew, his father. “But when we do get him really laughing, it’s the most identifiable, audible expression of pure joy I think I’ve ever heard. It’s equal parts laugh and squeal with glee.”
Recently, Charlie’s mother Erika explored this topic on her Facebook wall, confiding with thousands of her friends and friends of their friends.
“Question for moms out there with older little ones,” she wrote. “Does the laugh of your child stay the same, or does it evolve as they get older? I really love Charlie’s laugh and wonder if it will change as he grows up...”
Erika got some answers, some personal anecdotes and reminiscences. But the answer she would have gotten from me, Charlie’s Grammie, would have been much more personal than what Facebook folks could even know.
“Yes, dear Erika, the laugh will change — every day, probably — like his gradual perfection of word usage and the ability to stand alone.”
But it won’t change completely. Andrew’s baby laugh was exactly as he described Charlie’s: “an audible expression of pure joy … equal parts laugh and … glee.” It still is.
But as Andrew grew older, he began to understand different kinds of “funny” so his laughter became more discerning.
Andrew was about 11, and we were driving home from school one day when we passed a van with the business name painted on the side. A man was standing there, kicking it, jiggling the door handle, stomping his foot.
I heard Andrew let out an explosion of laughs — gleeful, joyful, musical. Then he was quiet, I looked back and he was just gazing out the window. A couple of seconds later he did the same thing, only this time he threw his head back and guffawed, squealing with laughter.
“What are you laughing at?”
“Did you see the name on that van? It was “Kenny’s Key Shop.”
Talking about his own baby boy now, Andrew gives a familiar description: “Just when you think Charlie couldn’t possibly keep laughing hard at the same gag, his head bobs back and he lets out another burst of baby chuckles.”
Exactly like his daddy.
I had four other children, and no matter how hard I worked to raise the five, I very seriously met each new phase in their lives with a kind of sadness, knowing there would be changes.
I would have told Erika, “I never wanted any changes to occur — I just didn’t. Whether it was changing from grade school to high school or finishing a year of ballet lessons or playing on their first soccer team, I wanted to digest things slowly so I wouldn’t forget them.
Nevertheless time always went by quickly, and changes did too.
“But,” I would have told Charlie’s mom, “don’t worry because what is following will always turn out to be better than what preceded it. I promise.”
In college, when Andrew stopped playing drums in the TCU marching band, I was so sad; I teared up when he told me. But he said, “Don’t worry Mom -- I’m going to do something that’s even better.”
He described his wish to do comedy — and it did turn out to be better! We experienced all his talents with him — the band, piano playing at Catholic Community, and improv comedy. It was a wonderful collection of memories.
As I was trying to think of my kids’ laughs, I remembered the things they thought were funny. John liked to imitate Steve Martin movies, and Andrew and his sisters got to perform with him.
No matter who was performing, there were always four siblings to laugh, so the blend of their voices was in harmony, like a barbershop quartet.
Four different kinds of laughing right there for me to enjoy! And all their laughs were different.
I think when God makes us, He includes great gifts, and characteristics our mothers are going to love the second they know us. Maybe that’s why moms have the strength to go through labor and sleepless nights, because they know there’s something so endearing, they can endure anything, just for those children.
“My dearest Erika,” I would tell his mother, “certainly Charlie’s laugh is going to change, just like your laugh and my kids’ laughs changed, and your activities and actions and abilities changed. You went from crawling to pulling up to walking around the coffee table. All of those things changed, so why wouldn’t your laughs change?
God gave us a myriad of wonderful gifts, made for our happiness.He gave us everything we remember fondly, that we care about and love, that we sing about or cherish. God gave us everything that is funny or wonderful, everything that we should praise and thank Him for daily.
It may be that one of God’s best gifts was not how we laugh, but that we laugh.
I think it was his choice and his gift that we do laugh.
Copyright © 2012 by North Texas Catholic
Charlie, my grandson, is about to be one year old, and that makes my heart laugh. The anniversary brings happiness to his parents, because they have had the privilege of seeing their child’s smile, hearing his ...