The Laughter of Children Is the Best Medicine Commentator Joseph C. Phillips says a dose of love and laughter from his children is all the medicine he needs when he's under the weather. Phillips is an actor and columnist living in Los Angeles.

The Laughter of Children Is the Best Medicine

The Laughter of Children Is the Best Medicine

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Commentator Joseph C. Phillips says a dose of love and laughter from his children is all the medicine he needs when he's under the weather. Phillips is an actor and columnist living in Los Angeles.

ED GORDON, host:

I'm Ed Gordon. Next time on NEWS AND NOTES, what would your life be like if you were a different race? A new TV show allows families to see how the other side lives. We'll speak with the people behind the controversial cable series, Black White. That's next time from NEWS AND NOTES from NPR News.

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GORDON: Cough syrup or cold medicine may be the first things you reach for when under the weather, but commentator Joseph C. Phillips has a different prescription. He says for him the love and laughter of his children has been the best cure all for all his aches and pains.


I lay in bed floating on an antihistamine high. I felt a presence at the side of my bed so I opened my eyes, stared into the face of innocence. Barely able to see into the bed, my four-year-old son stood on his toes watching me. Daddy, are you okay? He was concerned. Yeah, Daddy is just a bit under the weather today.

Can I give you a hug?

Let me tell you something. Nothing satisfies like those skinny little arms around my neck. I felt better immediately. He ran downstairs to announce to his mother that he'd given Daddy a feel-better hug. Ah, childhood, a time when puddles are for stomping in, running is just so we can feel the wind in our face, and a hug and a kiss will cure most anything that ails you, but the time disappears too quickly. Age often brings more than just wisdom it brings cynicism, as well. Perhaps we suffer too much heartbreak. Maybe it's just that we no longer have boundless reserves of energy, but as we get older, what was possible becomes impossible.

We're not worth the effort, we avoid puddles, lest we dirty our shoes, run only so we can lose weight and from my mind we don't hug or kiss nearly enough. We recognize how precious those qualities are. As adults we bust our humps to provide safety and security for our children, and we're outraged when anything or anyone acts to rob them of their innocence. Yet, often we become so focused on protecting them that we forget to enjoy them. We are focused on paying the bills, getting dinner, and projects for work finished on time and forget to revel in the healing power of our children's laughter.

We focus in on the, why me, Lord? And tune out their stories that go on and on with no direction and no end. We sit them in front of the television rather than put business to the side and indulge in that wonderful sense of everything being possible. I plead guilty as charged, and it's too bad, really, because my boys will not be young forever and I'll miss their childhood when it's gone.

The other day my oldest didn't take my hand as we crossed the parking lot. Now over the years, I've grown used to slipping his fat, little hand in mine as we cross the street or walk through a parking lot. This time, my son didn't take my hand, as he normally does. He jumped out of the car and simply walked by my side. It was so subtle that I almost didn't even notice it, but I missed the feel of his fat, little hand in mine.

When did it happen, I thought? When did he stop needing me to hold his hand? When did my first baby become a big boy? It happened so fast. It may have been the cold medication playing tricks with my mind, but in the midst of the fog, I had a moment of clarity. I was suddenly outside myself watching, seeing time march by, days falling like autumn leaves. My sons were men. The innocence of their big, brown eyes was replaced with the wisdom and cynicism of adulthood. Sadness washed over me.

The day will come when my four-year-old will not look up to me, lying on my bed sleeping off a few ounces of cold medicine, but will look down upon my elderly body lying in my deathbed. That's just the way it is: the cycle of life. He will take my hand as I took my father's hand in his last moments. I wonder if his hands will still feel this small.

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GORDON: Joseph C. Phillips is an actor and columnist living in the Los Angeles area.

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GORDON: This is NPR News.

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