I Love the Sound of Laughter in the Morning

America's Funniest Home Videos
America’s Funniest Home Videos — the source of much of Ryan’s laughter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have many morning routines in our household. Ryan is always the first to rise. He makes his way downstairs. If he is having waffles for breakfast, he toasts them himself. If he is having a bagel, he waits for one of us to come downstairs and cut it in half.

While he waits, he sits on the couch and either watches TV or uses his iPad. lately, if he chooses TV, he watches either Wipeout or American’s Funniest Videos on the DVR, where we have stored dozens of episodes of each. During the NHL season, Ryan watches NHL Network every morning, so this is strictly a summer replacement option.

If he chooses the iPad (or if Riley beats him to the remote), Ryan typically watches AFV clips or NHL highlights. Recently, he discovered on his own that there are many full episodes of AFV available on YouTube. It shouldn’t surprise me that he is so resourceful on the computer, but somehow it does. He tends to get so focused on repeating the same activities, such as watching highlights of old NHL games, that it is a pleasant surprise to see him do something new.

As much as I love hockey (and my livelihood depends on people caring about the sport) there is one aspect of AFV or Wipeout that I prefer.

Watching either brings out Ryan’s laughter. Great, rumbling guffaws that emanate from some place deep within him and come rolling out of him in endless waves. His laughter is infectious. I don’t have to watch what he’s watching to be in on the joke.

It’s a wonderful sound with which to be greeted when I stumble down the stairs to fix the morning coffee.

Recently I was searching for a file on my work computer when I came across a trove of personal photos that I had forgotten were stored there. I’ve had the same job for more than a decade, so some of these pictures date to Ryan’s birth and have been transferred from computer to computer as I’ve upgraded over the years.

It can be a dangerous exercise, looking at old photos of Ryan — especially from his baby and toddler years. I find myself searching his face for clues. Was he trying to tell us something? What signals were we missing? I cringe at some of the memories. We have a bunch of pictures and videos from his first birthday party. In them, he covers his ears when we sing “Happy Birthday.”

We, his parents and grandparents, the people charged with knowing him best and meeting his needs, laughed at his reaction the way Ryan now laughs at Wipeout and AFV. We thought he was making a judgement about the quality of the singing.

That memory hurts. He was wordless, yet speaking volumes, but in a language we didn’t yet understand.

Another thing I noticed in these pictures: Ryan looked so serious in many of them. Well, serious is not the right word. It’s the word we used to cover for what we really feared. He looked scared. Confused. Unhappy.

Serious Ryan
This face shows up in a lot of old photos. What were you trying to tell us?

I wish I could go back in time and inform my younger self with my current perspective. I wish I could tap me on the shoulder and tell of some of the triumphs ahead. I wish I could go back and fortify myself against the coming challenges with the knowledge I have gained in the interim.

That’s not possible, of course.

I do have memories of Ryan smiling and laughing at that age, but they are overpowered by my new perspective on these old photos.

Ryan (left) and Riley
We have a lot of shots of Ryan (left) smiling too, but somehow I don’t remember these as much.

I was thinking about the pictures as I tried to fall asleep last night. I often spend that time planning a blog post for the morning. They were still on my mind when I woke up and made my way downstairs.

To be greeted by waves of Ryan’s laughter as he watched AFV clips on his iPad was the best possible medicine. I paused a moment to take in the sound that I can only describe as pure joy before stepping into the kitchen to fix coffee, juice and waffles — my typical routine.

I’d sure love to make Ryan’s laugh a part of that routine. What a perfect way to start my day.



12 thoughts on “I Love the Sound of Laughter in the Morning

  1. There is something infectious about the laughter, isn’t there??? I can relate to so much of this post…from the searching old pictures for clues to the pit in my stomach.. to forgetting all the negatives when I hear my son’s laughter.


  2. I can relate to looking at the old photos. Looking back on my son’s pictures I see the same sense of unhappiness, fear and confusion. It is a special kind of heart ache that only parents of kids that are under the umbrella seem to know.
    But the laughs sure help!


  3. What a moving story. I followed your link from a Tweet you posted with the hashtags #autism & #laughter. I could really feel the emotions in the words of your blog post. Thank you for sharing your story. Glen.


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