Laughter therapy

The house falls quiet for the first time in more than twelve hours, and I let the silence settle over me like a favourite blanket.

I love this time of evening. We call it grown-up time in our house, and the boys seem to accept that it’s simply something that helps to keep their parents sane.

I switch on the kettle, savouring the sound of the water reaching boiling point. The anticipation of a quiet cup of tea to mark this peaceful moment is arguably more delicious than the tea itself.

A month or two ago it got dark at four o’clock but tonight I strolled along the beach at half past five and it was daylight still. It might be February but spring comes early in these parts, and my soul just knows that it’s already here. You can even taste it – I breathe in deep lungfuls of salty sea air and it fills me up with hope – the perfect but intangible distillation of what Spring really is.

This Spring I plan to laugh a lot. I’ll breathe in hope and exhale humour. I don’t laugh enough and today I caught myself in full-on Victor Meldrew mode. Lighten up, I told myself,  un-furrowing my brow as I realised that frowning makes the world seem a much darker place. Laughing makes it lighter.

Yesterday marked a milestone in our family, and the alchemy of the moment was more magical than first steps or words. We laughed together, but it was our first proper family in-joke, consisting of a genuine misunderstanding which led to a little micky-taking and ended with us cracking up together. Now any one of us needs only to say ‘bacon chocolate cake’ and no-one can help but laugh.

I love the natural capacity kids have for humour. From slapstick-style falling over to witty repartee my lads have got comedy covered, but I’m so often too distracted / busy / stupid to see the funny side.

And yet teaching a kid to prioritise laughter is such a gift. The funniest people I know seem to be the most resilient, too. I aspire to be more like that, and to encourage that emerging trait in my kids.

There’s often so much confrontation in our household – so much more than I had expected there to be. If we’re not issuing ultimatums, cajoling, or demanding then we’re enforcing time outs, removing privileges and doling out lectures. It gets so dull, and it’s so much more fun to laugh together.

It’s time we did that so much more.

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6 thoughts on “Laughter therapy

  1. Completely understand. Trying to keep everyone happy at the same time is almost impossible. It’s Monday morning half term, my son is sleepinG upstairs after just getting back from an all night rave specifically for 16 plus and my daughters are making too much noise, not helped by the nutella toast I gave them. Oh and the dogs, the puppy is crying at the kitchen door wanting go to chase the bunnies in the garden. We wouldnt say our house was boring JUST MAD! I better get off this thing and jump in the shower.
    Like the way you write and your honesty.
    PS LETS LAUGH MORE IT’S THE BEST THING. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS A GOOD GIGGLE CAN REALLY CHANGE YOUR FOCUS AND PUT EVERYTHING IN PERSPECTIVE.

  2. Claire Evans says:

    I can relate to your Victor Meldrew moments. I quite often question whether I am in fact turning into my parents. I would so love to be one of those parents who remain calm at all times and are non-judgmental, as they seem to inspire their children more and encourage a greater degree of openness, but it is hard to maintain. I remember once saying to my 7 year old son: “You’ve got anger issues!” His response, was an emphatic: “I do not have angry shoes!” My husband always seems to have more success when he uses humour to defuse a situation, so definitely, keep on laughing!

  3. I think it is Reader’s Digest that has a section called ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine”. How true!

    And before you ask, no, I am not 108 years old, and I do not subscribe to Reader’s Digest. My mum used to work for them years ago and so there were always copies lying around the family house.

    Anyway, what a brilliant post. I think most of us wish we could be parents of the calm and non-judgemental variety 100% of the time. But even managing it 50% of the time has to be a start!

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