03 Mar 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.
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
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!
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