Am I comfortable with the concept that you would laugh at me? This is a question that I have been trying to resolve most of my life.
Most people are not surprised to learn that I was the class clown throughout most of my academic career. Most people are surprised to learn that I was usually the smallest kid in the class. I made up for my small size with a vengeance in my old age. The sum of your life experiences tends to influence who you are. In some ways my childhood was miserable. I think the sequence of events in my formative years shaped me in a way that wasn’t all that bad.
In 1968 my dad answered the call to the ministry. For those of you who knew my dad during his formative years this event was predictable as the sunrise. Dad’s heart was always in the ministry. I plan to devote multiple blog entries to my Dad. Dad said goodbye to the family business, which was large scale road construction, and ranching and loaded up his life in a 1958 Diamond Reo bus for seminary in Louisiana. I will address the family business, dad and his ministry in several future blogs.
This ensured for the rest of my academic career, that I would always be the new kid in class. My destiny was fourteen different schools before I graduated as the only senior of my class.
As a child we had a vinyl LP record called “Don Lonnie talks with Teenagers.” In 1962 he quoted a statistic from Purdue University. He said that firstly teenagers want to be liked, secondly teenagers want to be accepted by a certain group or crowd, thirdly they want to know when they are in love, fourthly they want to know what the future holds. In my fifty years since that time I believe this to still be a truth.
I want people to like me! Sometimes I hate that so much of my self-worth is tied to the impressions of other people, but I want the acceptance of people. In reality I don’t think I am alone.
In my entire pre college academic career, I was the new kid fourteen times. Often I was thrust in a class with kids that have known each other all their life. How do you break into a clique that has been going on since kindergarten? Hey, if I can just attract attention I will be popular! The plan was usually an epic fail. People enjoy the entertainment and then move on. In the end you allow yourself to be used, and get little respect in return.
In all my sweet memories of my time with my own children, some of the sweetest times I had involved laughing at them. Benjamin was my sneaky practical joker. Jeremiah was always totally out there with all of his emotions on full volume. Nathaniel had a cute innocent way of seeing things. My laughs at them are a manifestation of my deep fondness for their uniqueness. The difference between this type of laughter and a quick snort at the antics of a clown is based in the relationship you have with the object of your laughter.
I have learned over the years to laugh at the unique way God made me. Mark Twain wrote:
“Humor must be one of the chief attributes of God. Plants and animals that are distinctly humorous in form and characteristics are God’s jokes.”
– Mark Twain, a Biography
Am I fine with the concept that you would laugh at me? Do you believe that God laughs at the humor in the objects of his creativity? Is it right to laugh at your children? What is the value of the relationship you have with the objects of your laughter? If it is all good, then I hope I can bring you a smile, a snort, a belly laugh or hysterics. Just give me a chance to laugh at my memories of you.