Site icon Liesl Garner

Learning to Laugh

Always the lists. Give me too much free time between calls at work, and a fairly slow day with no nearby neighbors to visit with, and I used pages and pages of scratch paper to make lists for the New Year.

Lists about working out, and menus, and lists of chores and how to rotate them. Lists about writing and making time for the things that feed my soul. Lists about together time and which movies to watch, books to read, adventures to share, and games to play. Then, there were lists about how to keep everything simple. (So there’s that.)

And all I really want to do is breathe in the sounds of activity in my house – the ones from the imaginary world I create in my poetry about them.

My remaining boys at home are 11 and 14. They are mostly sounds and smells and blurts and beeps at this point! They fight a fair amount, so I’ll be honest and not try so hard to idealize them. They are human pre-teen and teenager boys. They can irritate one another, themselves and me almost instantly.

We work on breathing through it, and trying to remember to check ourselves and ask if we’re just hungry, or tired, or stressed out, and maybe it’s not the other person.

We try.

We try some more.

And we do a lot of fun things together to wear ourselves out and remind each other how much we like each other.

We were standing in line today to return something, and my younger one, Bean, said something that was meant as a joke, and I laughed. I laughed more than was warranted, but I know he’s developing his humor, and could use some encouragement. My older son, Ben, said, “Dude-Mom, that wasn’t even that funny.” (Because that’s what they call me, Dude-Mom.)

I told him, “When you first started making jokes, I thought you were being mean or insensitive or abrupt. It finally dawned on me one day after I tried to correct you, and I saw your face fall, that you were being funny, and I took it seriously and got offended. All of a sudden, I started laughing at your jokes, even when they weren’t funny. It’s how we got to the place where I actually think you’re hilarious.”

“Like now, right?” he said. “Like how I am now?” And I laughed out loud, because, his delivery, and his face, and his eyes, and the dimples in his cheeks when our eyes meet and he’s making me laugh.

Yes. And Bean will grow into his humor too.

We get to grow into what we’re aiming for. We need encouragement from outside ourselves. We can encourage ourselves too. This year, I am wanting to be more organized. I want my world to begin to revolve naturally without so much tugging. I feel like if I can set my intensions and laugh at my feeble first attempts, I may someday grow up into a woman with easy humor over life instead of clenched fist tension and running around trying to clean everything all at the same time.

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