Let me tell you a story.
This weekend we decided to have a cook out. Partially because of mothers day, partially because it was beautiful out and partially because we love cook outs.
After we had all finished eating, my niece and brother in law started playing with the soccer ball while the rest of us sat in a sleepy state of peace from all we had just ate.
While my niece was playing she was holding a plastic cup filled with watermelon. I went inside for a brief moment and when I came out my niece was crying and my brother in law was laughing. I asked “what happened?”
Turns out, when they were playing my niece fell and started crying, my brother in law immediately asked what hurt and she just pointed to the cup of watermelon on the ground.
Everyone that was outside, heard, and started laughing. Not only that, but my niece started crying harder when they started laughing at her, and my family only started laughing harder.
When the story was retold to me, I also laughed.
It only occurred to me later, that a lot of families wouldn’t respond the same way. Some would do something silly, to take the embarrassment away from the child. Others wouldn’t laugh or try to suppress it, and reassure the child that everything would be ok.
As I was debating if we had a slightly cruel sense of humor I realized that a lot of our jokes revolve around the expense of another family member. Let me give you another example.
We have cousins that live in another state, and we went to visit them a couple years ago. The whole night was filled with light teasing of one another. One big joke the whole night was aimed at one particular cousin. His name is Armando. It translates to building. The joke were these 2 short words: Armando cacas. Building Poo. We were roaring in laughter all night.
In defense of my family, we kind of train each other early on to take these jokes lightly and not too personal. It’s like a defense mechanism. We use these jokes to laugh at our pain, our insecurities. I’m always the butt of some joke for my ditziness, and for my appeared inability to cook (this will be hotly debated by my family, but I can cook, k?)
And of course when I was younger the jokes stung, I wanted to prove that I wasn’t ditzy, a poor cook, short, etc. But what I’ve realized is that this sense of humor has given me an armor of strength when life has tried knocking me down. Instead of sitting there wallowing in pity or shame I laugh at my own ditziness for having locked my keys in the car yet again (It hasn’t happened to me in 2 years, so let’s hope I keep my streak going *knock on wood). It helps to not take myself too seriously.
It’s taken a while to understand how my family trained me to use this skill for my benefit. It’s not like I learned over night to ignore the sting of the jokes. But this year has been about building the life I want to live. Bringing the positivity. Feeling alive. Being my own cheerleader. By laughing at my own faults no one else can hurt me. No one can knock me down a peg because I have my feet firmly grounded and I know where I stand. I dare you to try. I’ll just laugh and keep it moving.
(No toddlers or young children were hurt in the making of this story. Mentioned niece left with a gap toothed smile, and a new cup full of watermelon. Colorin colorado este cuento se ha acabado.)