500 Words per Day: Laughter

I teach special education. That might be evident by the address of the blog; maybe not. Either way that is how I make a living. It's not an easy calling, nor is it always fun. It's daily challenging, but I am a trained professional so I take it all in stride.

Many days there is one thing the students do that bugs me. I hate to say it, but it's true: laughter at inappropriate times. Really it makes no sense to me when children just start laughing for no reason in the middle of a lesson on multiplication. It makes no sense to me when a student throws object after object around the room and laughs hysterically as if pieces of paper fluttering to floor is really Oscar worthy in the best comedy category. Yet that's what they do. Often. Without any regard for the fact that it bothers me. Without caring a minute that no one else in the classroom thinks it is funny.

Laughter. Inappropriate laughter. Out of context laughter. Laughter.

Then I got to thinking about my students laughing, often uncontrollably for long periods of time, for reasons apparent only to themselves. To be sure, I don't spend any time at all telling them to stop laughing. I might point out that it is not appropriate at the moment but honestly there is absolutely nothing I can do to prevent or stop a student from laughing at all the wrong times, again, for reasons only God and themselves are privy to.

Then I got to thinking about laughter–uncontrollable, ridiculous, out of context laughter. Part of my work is to teach my students about social etiquette. But I have to ask: what is the etiquette of laughter? Maybe laughter bothers us. Maybe out of context laughter makes us uncomfortable. Maybe it angers us because we want to know what the joke is and no one–especially students who have communication issues–is telling us or letting us in on it. Maybe what we perceive as out of context is, to the student with disabilities, perfectly within its context.

Then I got to thinking about laughter–you know, just plain old silly laughter that is loud, raucous, annoying, and downright inappropriate. I got to thinking about funerals and why it is that at funerals we spend so much time crying and weeping and mourning. I thought about my own funeral and that when it happens I don't want a preacher but a comedian conducting the service and that people damn well better be laughing because I know I will be. Someone better stand up and tell inappropriate stories about all the stupid things I have done in my life and how the only way I am seeing Jesus is by the grace of God.

I was thinking about laughter…and I got to thinking that my students make me happy and that I would much rather have a classroom full of out of context laughter than out of context crying and yelling. 

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