At What Point did Laughter Become a Problem? (A Little Friday Funny)

At What Point did Laughter Become a Problem? (A Little Friday Funny) May 30, 2014

I don’t usually post stuff like this. Cats, dogs, and babies always seem a bit below the belt for a Friday Funny. But this is such a rich emotional experience. I couldn’t resist. If you have kids this probably happened to you a few times–the first full on belly laugh. The kid just goes for it and you are lucky to bear witness to it, and to interact with that kind of unmitigated joyfulness. In the midst of it your body seems to get crossed up on its emotional axis and you find yourself laughing and crying at the same time.

I was watching this remembering back to the times when my own kids had moments like this as infants. It was easy to be completely present to it, to enjoy it and just accept it at face value. I fostered the moment and wanted it to last as long as possible. When the moment passed and they laughed themselves out, I was always a little bummed. Then I had a horrible thought. I realized that my kids still do this all the time, only now it annoys me. Somehow the difference between uncontrollable senseless belly laughter at age 4 months of age and uncontrollable senseless belly laughter at 8 or 10 years of age seems to change my experience of the whole event. I wonder why that is. I don’t think this is necessarily good.

Not too long ago we had another couple in our van headed from dinner to go play around and our boys were in the way back seat. It had been long day at the end of a long week and they had what we call the tired-sillies. They started laughing, and really got each other going into this (somewhat loud) uncontrollable fit of belly laughter. The four adults in the car were trying to have a conversation. So of course we kept shushing them, trying to get them to quiet down.

What if the situation were different, and instead of my eight and ten year old, it was my newborn baby and his 2 year old brother who had each other all wound up, completely in the moment, laughing their heads off? I guarantee the adults would have halted our conversation and relished the moment. We would have been sad when it passed, and we would have told all our friends about it. Instead we tried everything we could try to get them to stop. I wonder if that was the right choice.

I know there are times we need our kids to be under control. They need to learn how to control themselves around other people, and parents do their kids a disservice when they treat them like infants well into adolescence. But the truth is that we weren’t doing anything pressing. We weren’t talking about anything so important that we didn’t have time to enjoy laughter–even if it was a bit manic and silly. The truth is, we could’ve just enjoyed it. We had no good reason not to enjoy it. I am planning to remember thought next time I am faced with this situation. My agenda, no matter how important, should seldom be more important than a good laugh. We should delight in each other’s laughter, especially the laughter of our children. The moment of joy will pass on its own. We shouldn’t rush it. We should remember that all too soon they will overcome by the worry and anxiety of our world. It will be like a blink of the eye and they will be teenagers, gloomy and depressed ,and we will try anything just to hear them laugh good and hard. Maybe we should let them practice while they still want to.

Happy Friday everyone!

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