Grandson in My Guitar Case

When a one-year-old comes to visit, we can’t help being delightful.

Ryan, who turned one last month, checks out the view from my Yamaha guitar case this morning

I’d give anything to see the world as a one-year-old again.

Science may one day make that possible, but for now my best shot is hanging out with my grandson Ryan, who had his first birthday three weeks ago.

Ryan and my daughter Roo stopped by a few hours ago after dropping his older brother Jake at pre-school. Darlene made pancakes. I strummed the song I’m learning for my father’s 90th birthday party this weekend. Our Yorkie Claire barked constantly, demanding that we throw her ball. It was an eventful morning.

When Ryan climbed into my Yamaha guitar case, I reached for the iPhone in my pocket, but it wasn’t there. By the time I had fetched it in the kitchen and returned to the living room my grandson had climbed out to follow Claire into the hall.

He wasn’t thrilled when Roo put him back in the soft, black case. But he stayed long enough for me to take a memorable photo.

I wish I understood what makes a one-year-old laugh. I think of humor as an advanced human ability, informed by irony and a sense of the absurd. How, then, does it first arise in the consciousness of an infant?

“It’s just gas,” we say when a newborn seems to grin. “No, he’s smiling!” When does gas turn into a sense of humor? What a milestone, more important perhaps than the first step: the first time a baby gets the divine joke of being human.

Many things strike Ryan as funny.

His Dad, Mike, prompts gales of giggling by tossing Ryan in the air and catching him. Roo knows just where to tickle him. Darlene entertains him by reading books on the floor, even after Ryan has crawled off to investigate something else.

My specialty is goofy faces. I like to stick my tongue out at my grandson and make raspberry sounds. This is a riot for both of us.

Ryan doesn’t think it’s ridiculous when I turn my face into a cartoon. I wonder how long that will last. Jake is three, and there are plenty of things that strike him as funnier than his grandfather’s tongue.

Our family lexicon has my name as Grampa, which is a lot tougher to say than Ma Ma. It’s a running gag that whenever I see Ryan I excitedly exclaim “Grampa!” in hopes that he will mimic me. Darlene goes by “D,” so she is probably going to hear her name a few months before Ryan masters mine.

Even though he can’t say my name yet, Ryan seems to enjoy my greeting him with “Grampa! Grampa! Grampa!” He smiles and laughs, as if he’s already in on the joke.

I must have laughed just as hard 65 years ago when I was a yearling and my grandparents made funny faces at me. What a wonderful world — everyone trying in their own awkward way to delight me.

What if we still believed that were so?

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