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L – Laughter

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

L – Laughter

This is the twelfth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.

Laughter sometimes is left at the doorway to adulthood. Don’t let that happen to you.  There are several phases in your life when laughter will not seem as important, and it may seem trivial and immature but those are the times that laughter are most important and crucial.

When you obtain your degrees – It is important to remember, that even though you are suitably educated and you have achieved some really major milestones in your life, you still have a really long way to go. Some say the learning doesn’t really start until you leave school.  I say those people were in it just for the piece of paper, and didn’t pay enough attention to really learn.

When I left Graduate School, after writing and defending the thesis, I thought I was pretty darn important. But that was all dashed to smithereens the first day I entered the pediatric clinic at the Yokota Air Force Base, and realized I didn’t know much of anything, when I faced my very first sick child.  It was truly overwhelming.  It wasn’t until I relaxed, began enjoying being with my patients, and started goofing around with the kids, that I really enjoyed my job.  And the kids had fun with me too.

I had a little girl tell me the other day, that I looked like Elsa off of “Frozen”. But then she said “Elsa isn’t fat.”   And I said “Elsa isn’t real either.”  We laughed.

Make sure you laugh at you lack of experience, accept it for what it is, and with an open mind learn everything you can. Don’t ever think you know more than the people teaching or mentoring you.

When you become married – This is when you really need to laugh. Being married is never what you expect it to be.  It isn’t scampering along on the beach –gracefully – in slow motion, hand in hand, with a wife wearing a long flowing and a big floppy hat.  It is actually quite hard work being married.  Humor will help in so many ways.  Don’t get sucked into doing a whole bunch of boring things.  Maintain your silliness, find humor in things that really suck and don’t take each other terribly seriously.  Don’t feel you have to be like all your married friends, going to yoga classes, eating non-GMO foods, and being offended at everything.  You will eventually bore yourself and your wife to tears – and divorce.

When you become a parent – Becoming a parent is probably one of the scariest things you will ever face. You will spend the first year of your child’s life pretty darned terrified. And that is a shame.  Because that first year goes by so quickly, and if you don’t enjoy it, you will wish you could go back and slow time down in that first year, so you can relive each moment. Children are resilient and do quite well despite their parent’s shortcomings. Don’t fill your time reading all the books, because I can assure you just when you think you have it figured out, the child will change direction and do something totally different. And besides, like my Mum told me, the child hasn’t read the books, so he doesn’t know he is supposed to be doing certain things at certain times.

And for all those parents that think they are SO much better than everyone else, just laugh at them. They make think their toddler daughter is the most perfect thing ever, and how could you let your sons run wild, and why can’t you control your boys, but just remember, that perfect toddler will become a teenaged girl.  When faced with judgmental parents, chuckle to yourself, and know that their time will come, when their child doesn’t seem perfect at all.

And when your baby laughs the first time, that really deep, all body laugh that only babies can do – stop everything, and laugh with him. Burn that sound and the image on your memory, and cherish it.  There is nothing more special than a baby’s first laugh.

When you become the parent of a teenager – This is a time you really need to have a sense of humor. And realize you know nothing.  But if you set the roots down really early on in a child’s life you should be able to get through the teenager years relatively unscathed.  This brings to mind an example from the garden.  I have had potted plants that for some inexplicable reason will wither, lose all their leaves and look completely dead.  You dad has wanted to throw them out, because the plant looked hopeless, he thought it was a lost cause.  I said no, as long as it has a good root system, it will come back.  And the plants did come back, and flourished. So as long as your child has a good foundation, he will, or she will eventually flourish – it just may take a little longer than expected.

I have been to school meetings, Parents’ Nights at the High School and seen some of the most boring people I had ever wished or had nightmares about meeting. These people bored me, and I can imagine how their teenaged children must view them.  Laugh with your kids. Be sure to make some of the communication you have with your teenagers about them, not about chores, schoolwork, things they have done wrong, and they might actually enjoy spending time with you.

Remember when you guys did Water Polo and it seemed like we were on the road and at meets all the time? I remember at one particular meet, sitting with you and your teammates.  One of you said something really silly, and I laughed out loud, because it cracked me up.  One of your older team mates just stared at me and said “I wish my Mom would laugh like that when I said something funny.”

When you become older – They say laughter is the best medicine, but I say laughter is an essential supplement to healthy living, especially when you become older. Like your Dad says, “Now that I am older, I just don’t really give a sh*t what people think of me.”  There is a lot of truth in that (but don’t tell him I said so).  Like I have said, age is not a disease, and although it does comes with wrinkles and excess adipose tissue, it also brings with a sense of calmness.  It is comforting to know that you don’t constantly have to prove yourself, you can be quirky, and goofy or eccentric (only people with money can be eccentric – I am not sure why that is) and nobody really seems to care.  I like that.  Sometimes I feel invisible being older, but invisibility has its upsides.

I had a teenager ask me once how old I was. I told them.   They said “Wow that is really old.” Obviously this kid had no filters at all, but I said, “It may seem old to you, but I am very happy to be this age, because the alternative just sucks.  I wear each year like a badge of honor, with pride.  And maybe someday you will get to be this age.”   He was actually horrified by that statement, but obviously he hadn’t thought through what would happen for him NOT to make it to my age.  Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.


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