Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Giggle A Day

I get the giggles. Not every day, but quite often. It happened today as I pulled away from the garage with my son in the car. My husband was approaching my van attempting to get my attention.  “Any issues?” he asked, in connection with the fact that my car had needed a jump start last night. But ahhhh, I don’t know. The look on his face, the question that was asked, my own tired self...for some reason, it all struck me funny. I stammered out an answer, “No”, and then I started to giggle. My laughter continued at the bus stop as my son and I waited for his bus to arrive. “Mom! What is wrong with you?” Paul laughed. Uncontrollable laughter and immaturity make for a fun way to start a morning. And let’s be clear. I was being the immature one.  

The giggles returned an hour later when Jared, a student in my Creative Writing class, sent me a google doc that he tried to title “November Challenge”. His IPad’s autocorrect feature somehow renamed the file, “Mover Beer Challenge”. Only Jared and I knew at first why I was giggling so much, but soon the class realized it had something to do with the document he had just sent me. The students begged one of us to tell them what was so funny, but Jared and I were both giggling. It took us a good couple of minutes to be able to share with them the source of our laughter. 

Later, when I walked into my Horrific Tales class. I decided I’d had it with the tired, quiet nature of the group. I wanted more participation, more discussion, so I began to tell them my concerns and started with, “Here’s the thing”. That’s when Keanna interrupted me, “Are you breaking up with us?” she said playfully. That was the only invitation I needed to get silly again. I announced to the class that I was indeed breaking up with them. They were too serious, too quiet. They always made me feel weird. Students immediately began to snicker and to giggle. To push them to participate more freely, I challenged them all to be weird with me, and to “make a scary sound” before we went on with our lesson. It took a little coaxing but soon there were shrieks, gasps, gutteral throat noises, bone creaking, and zombie breaths. Oh, and one very unexpected short scream (from me). And yes, there was laughter. Lots of it. 

When I think of my favorite memories involving my Mom and Dad, they are the ones where they each laughed. Dad would throw his head back and after a silent intake of air, out would come a loud chuckle. Mom was notorious for giggling so much that she’d cry tears and have trouble catching her breath. I certainly inherited that giggle gene from her, as my children can attest to. I always lose it at fast food drive-thru windows. I’ve tried to order meals and have made squeaking noises into the intercom when I can’t catch my breath long enough to speak. I once ordered “PIPSY” (Pepsi) at a decibel level only a dog could hear. 

My husband turned to me one day a few years back and said, “You laugh more heartily now. I like that”. And today at school, the teacher next door said, “Anne, you smile so much more often these days. It’s really nice to see”. I recognize it too. Maybe I’ve mellowed in recent years. The pressures and frustrations of the school system don’t affect me as they once did. I have things in proper perspective, I think. But I’ve always laughed with my children--the three at home and the 100 teens I work with each school year. And I’ve always had people comment upon my smile. Eric’s grandmother used to comment upon my easy smile. I even remember my high school English teacher telling me that my face was going to get wrinkly very early in life because my face was very expressive. I remember thinking, “What other option do I have? I’m not going to stop smiling!”

Things strike me funny every day. People make me smile. Nothing feels more satisfying to me than laughing with others. Call me naive. Call me immature. Call me foolish. Call me weird. But come on, try to join me. Get silly. Give me a smile. Lose yourself in laughter. The world’s problems can wait a couple of minutes. Reenergize. Be happy.

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