Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: The Gift of Laughter #SOL19 #TWTBlog
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Slice of Life: The Gift of Laughter #SOL19 #TWTBlog

You need to come back.

What is going on?

I don’t have a key.

Just tell someone to let you out.

I did.

Silence.

They think I’m a resident.  They won’t let me out.

I picture her whispering into her cell phone, trying to keep it cool as she attempts to get on the elevator as someone else is getting on or off. 

Seriously, you need to come back.

I can see her being gently redirected back to the dining room, activity center or my mom’s room. 

Clare, can you still hear me.

I pull over. I realize what is going on. They have confused my mother in law, who was helping me, with my mother, and they are not letting her leave.  I forgot to give her my key.  I look at the clock.  If I go back to get her, I will miss my son’s parent-teacher conference.  As a working mom scheduling conferences is a literal nightmare.  I lined up an hour early before back to school night so I could jockey for the best slot.  I have to make this conference.  Possible solutions race through my mind.  I don’t even know who to call at the community or have a phone number with me.  I have no time to deal with this.  I will barely make the conference as it is, and these things are only twenty minutes long.

You are on your way back to get me … right?

I hear an ever so slight sense of panic in her voice.  The exhaustion and emotion of the last two days catches up with me and I burst into laughter.  It is all I can do.  I laugh until I cry.  We laugh until we cry. 

They are playing scrabble this afternoon.  I will be fine.  Just come back after the conference.

Are you sure?

Yes.  I just had a moment. Your mom and I will have a good time until you get back.

It’s nearly six years later and my mother in law and I still laugh until we cry whenever we remember this moment.  Looking back, this was one of the most brutal days of my life and I remember how good it felt to laugh.  I attribute laughing in that moment and learning how to laugh in the face of adversity to my mother in law.  When the going gets rough she laughs.  When she gets in over her head she laughs.  When times are sad, she looks for the joy in it and she laughs. For years she modeled for me that laughing is easier than getting upset and it feels so much better. 

I think about laughter and laughing when the going gets tough when I look around these days.  When I am in a store, a doctor’s office or even driving around town, I notice how many people are upset.  People arguing, complaining, screaming at someone for driving too slowly or not speeding up quickly enough when the light turns green.  I watch children watching their parents get upset over seemingly small things.  I watch children observing and learning how to respond when something doesn’t go the way they want it to go.  Most times the response doesn’t change the outcome, it just releases the energy and emotion.

I am not suggesting there is a never a time to advocate or let someone know your expectations were not met, but I do think we are becoming a society that is overtaxed, overscheduled and stressed.  We are exhausted and when the going gets rough we are more prone to get upset.  I also see more kids crying in school than I have ever seen before. I can’t help but think there is a connection. They are watching and learning what to do in the face of adversity.  School hallways are lined with posters about grit and resilience. Daily schedules now include a scripted social emotion or character value curriculum.  I am not sure these things can really outweigh what kids observe day in and day out.

Laughing in the face of adversity gives us the emotional outlet we need. Our heart rate rises, our body jiggles, and our brain releases “feel good” neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and an array of endorphins.  There has been lots of research identifying the benefits of laughter.  Seems to me laughter is a win-win.  All these benefits might allow us to take some things off of our to-do lists, cancel some appointments, and slow down.  So, while we will feel less stressed, we will also physically reduce stress. 

Sounds simple enough, but it is a disposition.  Lilian Katz reminds us that dispositions are caught not taught.  I am so thankful I had the gift of catching this one.  I am far from perfect and there are days that get the best of me for sure, but once you get into the habit it does get easier.  Laughing seems like a good thing to put on everyone’s to-do list!

Happy Birthday Mary – your gift to me is one that keeps on giving!

Clare

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

15 Comments
  • Avatar
    Paula B
    Posted at 12:49h, 03 March Reply

    This is SUCH a great reminder that our actions speak louder than our words. Your quote, “Lilian Katz reminds us that dispositions are caught not taught. ” might be a good entry point into a conversation with teachers as we discuss student behaviors. We have posters with advice, but we need to embody that advice in our own actions, and sometimes we just need to laugh. This is a perfect slice that will stick with me.

  • Avatar
    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 12:50h, 03 March Reply

    “Laughter is the bet medicine.” I believe that is true though sometimes it’s hard to laugh. I’ve been in such a blue funk since my good friend died that I forget to laugh. I’ll get there though. Thanks for this post today. I needed it.
    Good to read you again, Clare.

  • Avatar
    Margaret Simon
    Posted at 13:18h, 03 March Reply

    I really should laugh more often. It is good medicine!

  • Avatar
    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 13:56h, 03 March Reply

    Oh this sounds like a hard and stressful day with crying and laughter the perfect way to handle it. Your mother in law is a champion!

  • Avatar
    Carol Varsalona
    Posted at 14:04h, 03 March Reply

    This line will remain with me today, Clare: “Laughing in the face of adversity gives us the emotional outlet we need.” I will remember this as I meet the challenges of the week.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 14:46h, 03 March Reply

      It is a mindset I am thinking about a lot lately. Thinking of you always

  • Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck
    Posted at 14:15h, 03 March Reply

    I am blessed to work with a team of teachers who make me laugh every single day! Some days, they are what gets me through the tough days. But I could still use some work on my own response. Your mother-in-law sounds like a charm – it makes me think about and miss mine!

  • Avatar
    Danielle Metzler
    Posted at 14:53h, 03 March Reply

    More than a slice this is really insightful social commentary…I have chills!

  • Avatar
    karen szymusiak
    Posted at 17:29h, 03 March Reply

    Your post made me smile! Remembering these laughable moments gets us through our days. Remembering to laugh is an important part of our lives these days and making others smile/laugh is even more so. Thanks for the smile today, Clare.

  • Avatar
    Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 19:27h, 03 March Reply

    Thanks for this, Clare. I have several videos of my grandson laughing. I often just play them, especially when I’m missing him, or having a bad day. Laughter is the best medicine!

  • Avatar
    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 00:18h, 04 March Reply

    Oh, my gosh! Clare, this story is priceless – I just roared and I thought about how therapeutic it is to laugh long and hard! My sides ached from all my laughter, and it felt so good to take a break from being so serious. I had to read this piece to Ralph who also laughed heartily! I think I need to make a poster of ” Laughing is easier than getting upset and it feels so much better.!”

    Thank you for this! I think I may come back to read it again tomorrow evening!

  • Avatar
    Susan Kennedy
    Posted at 02:26h, 04 March Reply

    Well told story with a lesson I should hear. Thank you

  • Avatar
    Amanda Potts
    Posted at 02:28h, 04 March Reply

    What a gift your mother-in-law gave you. And I love that you share the story by making us laugh. As we head into another work week, I will think of this post, take a deep breath, and look for the joy around me.

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 00:22h, 05 March Reply

    I think one of my favorite parts of March has become Mary’s birthday. You always write the best tributes to her! I think I’m pretty good at laughing, but a reminder is always a good thing! Thanks, Clare!

  • Avatar
    Amy Harvey
    Posted at 22:28h, 05 March Reply

    Clare, this has to be one of my favorite SoL! Thank you for this!! It is something I need to remind myself and my boys to do more often!!

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