Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Friendly Teasing

I don't know about you, but I'm really drawn to people who are friendly and light-hearted and fun to be around. In choir I sit between Mark and Kara, in front of Randy. Randy is definitely not shy and retiring, Mark is a little quieter, and Kara is bubbly, but they all make jokes and witty comments and brighten the day of the people around them. They're just so likable! As Matthew (who sits next to Randy) says, "I guess you can tease anybody, but it's so much FUN to tease Kara!"

"Out there" in the big wide world, we're getting serious. And thin-skinned. And touchy. For several decades now, political correctness has been killing our sense of humor. And it comes in many forms. I remember one homeschool meeting where an agenda item was some cartoons poking fun at homeschoolers. Personally, I thought they were kind of funny. Granted, the cartoons' punchline was based on the idea that homeschoolers are at home "not doing anything." But, hey, what do we expect other people to think about homeschooling? Can we laugh at ourselves or even others' misperceptions of us? It sure seems to me that the ability to laugh at ourselves and others (good-naturedly, not meanly!) does a lot to preserve sanity. And joy. And relationships.

What I'm finding sad right now is my reticence to tease or make jokes. I even worry sometimes about whether my daily jokes on the blog will offend someone dear to me. When you're in the midst of a conversation, having a good time, joking around, and suddenly you're snapped at, it makes you leery of goofing around with that person again. And if it happens repeatedly, maybe you learn to keep your distance for fear of upsetting that person you care about. And then... if several people around you are weary or depressed or weighed down with pain, so that they can no longer laugh (and get upset when you do), the gravity spreads. Everybody walks on eggshells. Everybody becomes afraid of joking and light-heartedness. We withdraw and become serious when what we really need is to come closer together and bring cheer and comfort to one another. And yet, sometimes cheer is seen as flippancy, which may make matters worse for that friend who's down.

I wish I knew what the solution was.

But I do know that my solution (avoiding people so as not to inadvertently offend) is not the right solution.


  1. yeah, I don't know the solution to this one either, though I've run into it from time to time. I find its especially hard when communicating with someone via text, because you don't know how the other person is really responding without visual cues. It's just so hard to find the right balance for every person at each moment. That's probably what makes it so hard, people are so unpredictable!

    I'll never forget how I met my friend Heather in college. She sat next to me in band, we were both playing clarinet and I was seated first in the section even though I'd only been playing for a year (it was one of those awesome teacher-forcing-student-to-do-more-than-she-thinks-she-can-and-succeeding things). I turned to Heather and apologized if I sucked because "I don't really know how to play clarinet." She responded, "Um, yeah, I could totally tell!" with a huge dramatic eyeroll. I laughed sooo hard, and she was one of my best friends that entire year. Sarcasm is definitely the way to my heart, too bad not everyone feels that way!

  2. This probably isn't the right solution, either, but I make the jokes, anyway - with some discretion. And if it happens to be not the right level of discretion, well, live and learn.

    And quite honestly, sometimes I don't really care. If someone can't take a joke, then that's their problem - not mine. I mean, I think we ought to use discretion, too; but in the end, I don't really care.

    Then again, I tend to rebound from being snapped at really fast, too. In fact... usually I just make a joke about it and move on. :-)

  3. BTW: Not that I'm saying we want to drive away those we care about by making fun when they are depressed and don't want to hear it and the like. I was addressing more the whole "world is becoming serious" thing part of your post... not the second half so much...

  4. I vote - joke away - have fun! I love fun and light heartedness too! My dad constantly teases, jokes, etc. It's what I've grown up with. What I'm used to. I love the jokes you put on your blog too!