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My Daughter Used To Cry and Cry, And Then She Stopped Altogether

Sep 21, 2022

When I was 16, I had this friend.

We’d cause trouble, give our parents heartaches and headaches, and then he found himself in a situation that was beyond both of us: he got a girl pregnant.

Needless to say, he went through some emotions.

But he was prepared to do what needed to be done. He stepped up. And the next time I saw him, I was in awe. We were living together in Victoria at the time, and I found him sitting in a beat-up leather chair we had fished out of the garbage. We were playing chess, and as I watched him, it looked as thought he were staring deep into the abyss as the abyss looked back at him.

“How’d it go?”  I asked.

He looked at me, though it felt like he was looking through me, and said, “Q, there are some things about life that I think only your child can teach you.”

Honestly, he was never the same. I estimate in that week his personality aged eight to 10 years.


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And Just Like That: She Cried

As some readers may recall, my daughter came into this world with about as much convenience as a trip to the ministry of transportation.

But there’s more. When my daughter was born she cried. She cried all the way home. She cried all night. For the first few months, she had three modes: boobies, sleep and scream cry.

My wonderful loving wife seemed completely undeterred. Every minute of every day she did whatever she could to soften her baby’s heart. She was relentless, it didn’t matter the hour or what needed to be done, Mom was there.

One morning the screaming got us up nice and early, which was particularly great considering I had just worked all day and had a long day ahead of me.

My wife took the baby and sat her on her lap so that the baby’s back was against her legs.

"The cry was so desperate and so lost, yet the laugh was so thick and so full and uninhibited."

She started singing an absurd song “Sitting up like a big guuuurl, yes we're sitting up like a big guuuuurl …” while bouncing her up and down.

Like the sun breaking through rain clouds, my daughter's wail turned into a belly laugh that could shake a Klingon from their Bloodwine.

The transition was incredible; it was seamless yet startling.

The cry was so desperate and so lost, yet the laugh was so thick and so full and uninhibited.

As my friend assured me she would, at that moment my daughter taught me something about being alive.

Live, Laugh, Love

This moment also made me realize that while we may be desperate and fragile, it doesn’t matter so much.

Because happiness and joy exist. 

As I see it, joy is not like happiness. Happiness is more the byproduct of joy.

I believe happiness occurs over longer lasting periods, while joy can occur anywhere at any time. You could be at the funeral of the person you love most, and then an old friend walks in.

The event is itself not happy, but the reunion sparks joy.

"I have not heard my daughter cry in years, but we laugh together every day."

For my family, there is always a time and a place for joy.

This moment of levity made me realize that the human capacity for terror and sadness is only eclipsed by its capicity for joy — and that matters. So in our house, laughter is serious business.

As time went by, joy grew in our house by orders of magnitude. I have not heard my daughter cry in years, but we laugh together every day.

She mostly laughs at Ticky-Tocks and dog farts. I laugh at irony and myself. I like a good troll comment — like when someone called me the “clothing is optional writer.” I took a second look at my profile picture and then laughed at that for days.

I like a good dad joke. I can make a make a geography joke and a Putin joke in the same breath. To the groans and laughs of everyone I share it with.


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Every Tiny Joy and Horror

I know that not everything is a laughing matter. I am also an extremely fortunate person, because my family has dodged tragedy for whatever reason.

But troubles will come. They will also pass. And some things are simply unpredictable.

So I believe, amidst the hills and valleys of life, that it’s important for my daughter to establish a foundation of joy.

It’s the kind of armour that will help protect her when things get rocky. Considering what the future might hold for her, she may need it.

"There will be tough days ahead, as there always have been and always will be."

It is because I fear these things that I put an emphasis on joy and laughter. Because joy is love, is it not? It is the love of a beautiful moment for no matter how long it lasts or what the circumstances are.

All we have on this pale blue dot is each other. If love does not guide our path forward, then something else will.

When she was young, my daughter cried and cried until she could cry no more. Then she burst out laughing. There will be tough days ahead, as there always have been and always will be. But until then she just laughs until she cries.

I love you all! My friends, may your laughter be as thick and as pure as a baby who is being licked by a husky.

Article Author Quentin Janes
Quentin Janes

Quentin Janes is a writer whose influences include Raymond Kurtzweil, Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, Niall Ferguson, Jeremy Rifkin and Martin Luther King Jr — among countless others. He is a putterer, a tinkerer and a fixer of broken things. From bad grades to bad dogs to toilets, kids or drywall, he says he can fix it all.

 

 

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