Tuesday, September 22, 2009


"If you tickle us, do we not laugh?"... Shakespeare from The Merchant of Venice
My students often said they liked my class because I was so funny. This surprised me because I live with truly funny people and I never thought I could compete with their level of comic expertise. One of the reasons I married my husband is that I knew we’d be laughing all through life. He considers it his duty to try to break up any stuffy meeting at least once with a wry observation; he’s quite good at doing this. The story about his first job interview when he was leaving his duty as an artillery officer in the US Marine Corps illustrates what I mean. When asked for the work experience he could bring to the telecommunications field, legend recalls that he said, “you mean other than the fact that I know how to blow your house up from 500 yards away?” and was immediately hired by men who liked a good joke.
Those who read my daughter’s blog know that she is both a hilarious and meaningful writer. If you haven’t read her blog, you’re in for a real treat. Check it out at http://bedbyday.wordpress.com/ All my sons are funny in their own ways. My son Joe puts stuff, like ribbons, on his head at family parties.
At least he's wearing a hat here:

He and my son Karl have a yearly competition to see who can wrap his Christmas present in the most outrageous way. One year, Joe hid Karl’s present inside an iced layer cake. If you think that’s extreme, Karl sunk Joe’s gift in a block of gravely cement. Eric tells outrageous stories to entertain us, and often at family dinners, someone will say something that makes Joe and Care snort their ice tea out through their noses as they convulse with laughter. This is very funny to watch. Karl threatening to stuff a cherry tomato in Joe's ear. This is apparently funny and something they do.

So it’s easy to understand why deep gratification was mine to be told by teenagers that I was funny. Though I suspected they were laughing at me, not at my jokes or with me, I was still delighted; I found my students’ antics to be one of the best rewards of teaching. I remember how Soo hid in my class that one fun year.
Soo was in a different section of grade 11 and at the semester change, I hadn’t quite got used to who was in each class. So when I saw her sitting there, I was happy to see her (of course, I’d seen her a few hours earlier), and that was that. I could tell something was up because my students were all sitting up straight as planks, looking at me intently and smiling with a fixed sort of phony smile. This never happens if everything is normal. Teenagers only stare at the teacher if they are trying to sneak a look at their cell phone or if something else is going on in the room. They think if they look brightly at the teacher, she won’t notice what else is happening, but for me, it is what clues me in. So, I finally said, “What? What is going on?” Everyone burst into laughter and pointed at Soo. I still didn’t get it and said something like, “Come on, people, it’s not polite to point and laugh at poor Soo.” Alex, being merciful to me, managed to say between gasps of laughter, “She’s not in this class and you didn’t notice!” That’s what I mean about laughing at me.
me with a former student and her sister who is not only a former student but also now a colleague
I’ve had other serious blows to my confidence. Last winter, I wrote about how my grandson Joey was doubtful of my humor http://eighthandsaround.blogspot.com/2009/02/thats-not-funny-grannie.html
and this was probably because I laughed with delight at his attempts feeble attempts to joke. I love to see him laugh; he has a smile that sparkles and a laugh full of enjoyment. This year, Joey likes to play GI-Joe.

hiding from the Cobras in Grannie's closet

I’m an old pro at playing GI-Joe and I had some of the little figures left from when my boys were young. Now when Joey and Jack come over, we get these out and play with them. Providentially, (I suppose) the recently released GI-Joe movie means that there’s fun merchandise available and my husband couldn’t resist buying Joey and Jack some paper masks of the GI-Joe characters. This resulted in lots of fun. Joey had to be Snake Eyes because everyone knows he’s the coolest. Snake Eyes doesn’t talk, which does present a problem for the non-stop chatterer that Joey is. So to avoid having to talk, we don the masks and hunt Cobras – who are, for the uninitiated, the bad guys. Joey insists that we sneak because Snake Eyes is stealthy. Jack has no intention of sneaking, he just trots in his joyful, heavy-footed toddler gait the entire circuit from the kitchen to the living room and back around calling out, “Yo, Joe!” while Joey sneaks and I follow. ...acting like brothers... at least Jack is not putting a cherry tomato in Joey's ear. Not old enough for the really funny stuff.
Joey sneaking means he runs as fast as he can from room to room. Joey scampers so quickly and so happily that sometimes it looks as if he’s skipping on air! Jack and I can not keep up. Here’s what happened: while Jack and I plod through the hall, Joey zoomed past us. When he came back around to overtake Jack and me again, he stopped, screamed and burst into delighted laughter. His shoulders were shaking he was laughing so hard. Apparently the surprise of his brother and I in masks was too much for him. This kept up, round and round the house, Joey shrieking with joyous laughter each time he overtook us. Finally, exhausted, he grabbed my knees and hung on. “Grannie,” he said, beaming up at me with that dazzling smile, “you are the funniest girl in the whole, wide world.”
Somehow I suspect that he, too, is laughing at me.


  1. This is a great story and I am Beyond Happy that you play with him rather than making him play with you. How wonderful for him that he can enjoy you with out it being limited to games on your terms.

  2. That might just be the best toddler compliment ever! And for the record, I don't recall ever laughing AT you. : )

  3. Joey is one of the funniest little guys I've seen. He cracks me up! And he is so blessed to have you as his grandma... what wonderful memories he will have!!

  4. I truly appreciate how you play with them. I agree that laughter is one of the best parts of life! I love the belly laugh of a child. I love that last picture of him on your leg. that is so "him"