essay

Humor in Misfortunes

Recently, I’ve been learning how to laugh at myself and my life.

A few weeks ago, I hit a deer. While on a deer hunt. In a new-to-us minivan that we had literally just replaced the brakes and tires in a few days before. It was so completely unfortunate that I found it hilarious.

A lot of misfortunates are just sort of funny.

The populations of the towns I live in have been decreasing for a while. We lived in a town of 5,000 people. And then in a town of 200 people. And right now I don’t even live in a town at all. If you discount temporary and seasonal residents, then there is a population of about ten where we live, and my family is six of that.

A few years ago, on my daughter’s birthday, I took a wrong turn and ended up driving an hour in the wrong direction, adding two hours to our trip. I will probably never mess up a birthday quite as badly as that. Only up from there.

Sometimes it’s good to laugh instead of worry. Laugh when you have no idea what you’re doing. Laugh when you fall over. Laugh when you are sick. Laugh when you accidentally ruin things. Laugh when you get lost. Laugh at your ineptitude. Laugh when you are afraid. Laugh when you’re confused.

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My kids have had the weirdest journey through schooling. My daughter had seven kids in her kindergarten class and about 14 in her first grade class. She went to three months of second grade in public school. She is currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and she will finish two weeks after starting it. I go to the library and she gets ten or more books, and in a few days, she’s read them all.

My son has gone to three months of half-day kindergarten and some preschool. He reads small chapter books now. He is learning third grade math, and he basically has a calculator in his brain.

And I thought that I wasn’t good at homeschooling. My kids love worksheets (they do them for fun sometimes). I got them handwriting books to improve their handwriting, and they not only finished them, but they keep asking me to get new ones.  They engage in their own science experiments. They read and read and read. They love puzzle books. They explore outside, make lists, and ask really good questions. The fact that I thought I wasn’t very good at homeschool is sort of hilarious because my kids have learned so much.

And I’m currently enrolled in public school (online college classes) while I homeschool my kids, which is also sort of funny.

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I can worry about things and feel guilty and cry. Or sometimes I can just laugh.

The other night, I wanted to sleep well, so at 1:30 in the morning, I tried to find my daughter’s special blanket so that she would stop waking up. Well, it took me over a half hour to find it, and then she kept waking up anyway, and I ended up losing quite a bit of sleep. Because I wanted to sleep well in the first place. It would have been better if I would have done nothing.

I am reminded of this quote:

I remember loading up our children in a station wagon and driving to Los Angeles. There were at least nine of us in the car, and we would invariably get lost. Instead of getting angry, we laughed. Every time we made a wrong turn, we laughed harder.

Getting lost was not an unusual occurrence for us. Once while heading south to Cedar City, Utah, we took a wrong turn and didn’t realize it until two hours later when we saw the “Welcome to Nevada” signs. We didn’t get angry. We laughed, and as a result, anger and resentment rarely resulted. Our laughter created cherished memories for us. (from “Come What May and Love it” by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.)

Instead of being annoyed at my husband, I can usually laugh instead. I can laugh when ever I accuse someone of being cranky, because that inevitably means that I’m the cranky one. I can laugh instead of fight, laugh instead of blame, laugh instead of wallow in my misery.

Life is messy and chaotic and unexpected and it’s good to just laugh at the absurdity of it all sometimes.

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