I’ve always found humor to be an important element in my life. Maintaining a sense of humor is what got me through being pregnant with and having twins.
I remember the day when, at 36 weeks, I waddled into my OB-GYN’s office and stepped on the scale to learn I’d crossed the 200-pound threshold. At that point I outweighed my husband by 25 pounds.
Instead of crying, I wisecracked about how they’d better wait an hour before taking my blood pressure. The shock of learning I weighed the same as a Volkswagen would skew the results for sure. (BA-DUM-DUM!)
I had the nurses rolling.
Fast forward to the delivery room. As I lay there in stirrups, with my doctor verifying that I was indeed 10 cm and ready to push, all I could think of was Chevy Chase from Fletch.
Despite excruciating pain, in between contractions I asked, “You using the whole fist, doc?”
I brought a resident to tears with that one.
Humor got me through when my ex-husband left. Sure, I had my pity-party moments, but more often than not, I tried to keep up my sense of humor (my chin too).
It wasn’t too hard – after all, he did resemble Steve Martin from The Jerk when he left: “I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. All I need…is this ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.”
Good or bad, it’s a defense mechanism.
I also apply humor to my parenting style. I enjoy my kids and find that I can get them to be more cooperative when I use humor, versus soul-crushing discipline.
Just the other night at dinner, as the kids were poking at their respective helpings of casserole, I stood up and ceremoniously announced a new house rule. Holding my spatula like a scepter, in a grand voice (a poor imitation of Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins, I admit), I proclaimed,
“Whoever complains about dinner, will receive another, delicious, nutritious and generous helping.”
My bit was met with eye-ball rolling. Impressions have never been my strong suit.
“Is this thing on?” I asked (still using the phony British accent), tapping the top of my spatula-now-turned microphone.
Granted, my humor is sometimes lost on my young audience, but someday, they’ll look back and appreciate that I made the effort. I hope that the kids’ childhood memories will be of laughing and having fun. Though, sometimes I wonder if I’m just giving them fodder for future therapy sessions.
But seriously, folks.
I think the use of humor in my house is having a positive effect. Humor teaches us to not take ourselves too seriously.
A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter and I were in the bathroom getting ready. I was putting on my makeup and she was brushing her hair. After studying her reflection in the mirror for a while, she asked me, “Mom, am I ugly?”
I put down my mascara and turned to face her. I gently cradled her face in my hands and said,
“Yes, honey. You are a very ugly girl.”
She held my serious expression for a split second before we both broke down laughing. She realized I’d caught her fishing for a compliment. I pulled her to me and hugged her. I assured her that she is very pretty and pointed out that it’s a little silly to ask a question for an answer you already know.
Any good comedian will tell you that it’s all about timing. I don’t want the kids to think they can joke their way through life or be unable to tell when I’m serious and when I’m kidding. And to be honest, we have our ups and downs in this respect.
Sometimes, when I’m laying down the law, they’ll crack smiles to try to charm their way out of trouble. Sometimes they can get me to break and sometimes they can’t.
Sometimes I have a hard time not laughing – especially when I’ve caught them doing something ridiculously naughty. Like the time my girls turned themselves blue.
They’d been outside playing with sidewalk chalk. Somehow, they thought it’d be fun to color their faces and bodies blue – including the brand new white turtlenecks I’d just bought.
Despite the Funniest-Home-Videos quality of the moment, I was livid. (We were set to leave the house within the hour to make an important appointment.)
The girls laughed, giggled and mugged funny faces, tying to ramp up the cute factor to avoid getting punished. Lucky for them it worked. Instead of scolding them, I grabbed the camera to capture the moment.
Though, I’m typically not a proponent of working blue.