You'll know what I mean the instant you hear it. It will stop you in your tracks as it doesn't sound like them. But suddenly you realise it's exactly the opposite - it's the real them, the person their friends know when you're not around, the person who's heading some day to college (hopefully), to their first job (again hopefully), the person who will one day walk in the door holding hands with a stranger who probably knows your grown-up child better than you (hard to accept but, sure, hopefully).
But all of that is ahead of you - for the time being, when you hear that laugh, delight in it as it grants you a tiny insight into the adult your child is becoming. Sometimes it can be surprising - a less than genteel burst from a more than gentle soul. A glimpse into a wicked sense of fun that many would not associate with your by-the-book, straight-down-the-line offspring. Or it can be a whole-hearted and whole-bodied guffaw from your normally reserved, normally calm, normally in control teenager.
I heard the latter last night and it was a bittersweet sound. A reminder he is not long for this world, our current world of school and sports and homework and dinner and family TV. His feet falling off the end of the sofa also acted as a visual reminder, the same feet that now mean double helpings of man-size socks in the laundry basket. That was the bitter part. The sweet was that he was not laughing alone. There was a perfect echo of man and boy breaking out in unison, a concert of chuckling, a symphony of snickering. Father and son as one.
It would seem the laugh may be their own, but the sense of humour could well be yours. Be warned.
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