Laughing with Little Friendsby Katie Foth on 11/22/18
Laughter is good medicine, so the old saying goes. My heart brimmed with satisfaction last week when two of my former students bubbled with laughter. Their laughter made me feel good, like viewing this picture of my oldest granddaughter:
I had been pulled from my regular schedule and was only covering a class of three-year-olds for the teacher's half-hour planning period. We had spent the first fifteen minutes marching around the room with percussion instruments to the strains of John Phillips Sousa. Then we switched to playdough. Ella began by making worms. Then she grinned and announced that we'd be having worms for supper tonight. I played along, assuming a subservient role. Immediately, my face fell.
"But worms are not my favorite," I said. "I don't care for them much."
Ella firmly took the lead role of parent. "You have to eat your worms, or you don't get any candy for dessert," she responded.
I pretended that my eyes were starting to tear up. I rubbed the corner of one eye. Nicholas started giggling, so I played up the part. My mouth drooped into a sad pout. "But I don't like worms," I whined. "Why do you have to be so mean to me?"
More laughter. Ella blinked. "I'm not being mean," she stated in an even tone. "It's how supper works. If you eat your supper, you can have two pieces of candy." Truly she had learned a kind firmness from her mother! And maybe a bit of bribery.
I was rubbing both eyes now, on the verge of a good cry. Nicholas threw back his head and laughed in full while I made the most of long, exaggerated expressions. Nothing like a role reversal to delight a child, huh?
Then in walked Nicholas's mother. I turned to her and smiled, but my transformation of expression--was it quick enough? I wondered. It didn't matter. No music is so sweet as the clear and ringing laughter of smiling, bright-eyed children (to paraphrase P.T. Barnum). She smiled back at me and kindly told me it was good to see me again. I'm sure she enjoyed seeing her son so spontaneously, ridiculously happy.
I felt a bit ridiculous myself, but more than that, I felt emotionally healthy. Laughter--especially the laughter of a child--rejuvenates one's soul.