A wacky, madcap Girl. This one was was taken by her Poppa just before her 5th birthday party last year.
On the weekend, we visited my mum, the Girl’s Nana, in North Vancouver. Since I’ve got the car now (more on that in another post!), it’s much easier to get there, a beautiful region where SkyTrains fear to tread. The possibilities have expanded for us that way. But, things have recently begun to expand in other ways for the Girl too, unrelated to the whole transport thing, which has been a pretty big deal for both of us up until now.
The thing is that she’s currently at an age where she comes out with stuff. You can see her processing things. She asks a lot of questions. She blurts out her thoughts, because she is hungry to understand. She’s a professional observer. She’s an explorer. She’s hungry to find out.
One thing she’s interested in lately is what’s funny.
Up until now, she’s laughed when something strikes her as funny. But, more recently she’s become more self-aware about this business of funny. She’s interested in why things are funny. And it is a very hard question to answer. I mean – can anyone really answer that? Things are funny because they are, not because there is some sure fire cause and effect formula for it.
So in the middle of a story of mine around the supper table at my Mum’s, the Girl was laughing along, picking up some words of mine and repeating them, trying to unlock why others were laughing at what I was saying. It was fascinating to see her working out the mechanics of funny; the combinations of words, the delivery, the timing. She took it, and created a mash-up of her own kid’s absurdism with some elements of my story. She made all of us laugh in turn. It was awesome!
She’s on her way in at least figuring out how humour works through me and others in her life, which is all about learning about verbal sleight of hand, undercutting audience expectations, and (sometimes – well, a lot of the time) doing silly voices. In this, the Girl’s observations of the world will be expanded upon, as will her tools of perception. Humour is good that way, as a means to understand that everything needn’t be so earnest, so austere, so serious; that there is such a thing as layers of meaning, and of interpretation – and that it can be really fun to play with it!
In this, I believe that humour is the greatest balm in the world, where so many fall under the shadow of narrow-mindedness and an often cruel lack of perspective. That’s what those who employ irony, innuendo, and satire are fighting against. And how vital are these in this world of sociopathic business and political practices, religious nuttery, and all-around intolerance and desperate lack of empathy in all too many quarters?
So, humour is more than an avenue to enjoying life more, which it certainly is. I think there’s a social importance to a sense of humour too. It is a vital element for the Girl to learn as early as she can. Humour is a means to avoid Orwellian
fear and oppression from ruling over us. Humour keeps all purveyors of those things from taking hold, because it’s about having a keen sense of perspective, and playing with perception which is acknowledged as being fluid, not static. A sense of humour then is not to be considered the dessert course in the meal of life. It is social nourishment itself.
Plus – who am I kidding? I have to pass the mantle of doing silly voices along to someone.