I am having a new relationship with humor. I would like to believe I always had a sense of humor. I am forever faithful to Ellen Degeneres and her TV show. Since so many other people watch her, I believe I am in good humor company. But now, I am also loving Key and Peele and Hari Kondabolu. The whole Korean SNL ‘scandal’ is still brewing in my head all these weeks later. I get fixated on things I don’t understand. This usually means when I am feeling inconsonant with those who I feel are part of my community, my cohort, my allies. The immediate first check is to figure out what is wrong with me? Too insecure to blame the entire group of “others”, I am still wondering what went askew.
Thank you, Key and Peele, you relieved me of my stress. What timely coincidence that the week after all that went on over there in Korea, TIME magazine’s cover had these guys on and they wrote a brilliant piece on humor. Rather, they encouraged “Make Fun of Everything”. They wrote, “To not make fun of something is, we believe, itself a form of bullying. When a humorist makes the conscious decision to exclude a group from derision, isn’t he or she implying that the members of that group are not capable of self-reflection? Or don’t possess the mental faculties to recognize the nuances of satire? A group that’s excluded never gets the opportunity to join in the greater human conversation.”
It’s the last sentence that rang loudest for me. Forever feeling like an outsider here in America and in Korea, the last thing I wanted was to find out my very temperament predestined me to being excluded from laughing too. Grown ups are terrible at laughing. We get embarrassed, red faced and try our damnedest to muffle it. But hang around kids and they seem completely incapable of muffling anything. They laugh at the same thing over and over again. Bathroom sounds can get a group of 9 year old boys in peals for nearly an hour! Something happens, perhaps when the greater community around them, their peer group, begins to influence behavior, and all of that stops. Humor becomes compartmentalized just like everything else. As an adoptee, I think we have a bit of wickedness in our humor. Besides the obvious misunderstandings of our names and faces, we can be pretty snarky about our birth families and our adoptive families. I wish we could share some of that humor out there too. I don’t believe us to be “hothouse flowers”, but our self-reflection can go so far deep that it can get really dark in there.
I can’t honestly tell you how my laughter sounds. However, whenever I am with my Umma, I listen hard for her laughter. We have similar voices but only when speaking Korean. So laughter is hard to come by when our senses of humor are bound by language, both literally and culturally. Thank goodness for the kids, their antics drew her out and I have discovered that she has a lovely soft ring to her laugh. Time and life has taken the deep belly snorting laugh, but she laughs.
So I am doing my best to laugh more, to find things funny and take in the fickleness of humor. It must be working because I think I got the best Mother’s Day gift. My dear husband decided to give me my own Mother’s Day a week early so I won’t need to share it with the other mothers of the family and lose myself. He asked the boys what they love about me, how nice and embarrassing right? My G just loved that I am always there for him….good diplomatic answer. He quickly chimed in though when his big brother did the hard work of finding a great compliment. P said, “I think Mommy is funny.” WHAT? I stand by my conclusion that my children are THE source of unconditional love. That one sentence is my proof. My children think I am funny. Laugh out loud, giggling, snickering, whispering, all of it. They get my sarcasm, which can be pretty sharp at times and I am beginning to get a taste of my own medicine…and still they love. I get the eye roll and quivering lip with tears emerging when I have gone too far and still each day ends with, ‘I love you more.” They say women will fall for a guy who makes them laugh over many other external factors. This woman has fallen for the two emerging men who laugh at her.
To my Mothers, to your Mothers, near and far…Happy Mother’s Day! May it be filled with laughter!