22: Learning to Laugh at Yourself

22: Learning to Laugh at Yourself

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

Learning to Laugh at Yourself

To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.

~William Arthur Ward

In the spring of 1991, the phone in my studio apartment rang. Upon answering, all I heard was my mother’s laughter. Laughter being contagious, I began to chuckle a bit and asked her what had happened. She continued to laugh so hard that nothing she said was audible.

“I’ll call you back” were the last words I heard before she hung up.

Knowing that it must not be serious if she was laughing, I went about my business, wondering what she had done this time. The phone rang again and this time she was able to say a few words between the laughter.

“I put my head in the ceiling fan.” More laughter.

“What?” I was starting to laugh myself. “Why would you do that?”

“I saw a cobweb up on the shelf in the kitchen . . .” Laughter. “So I stood on the chair to wipe it away . . . then whomp, whomp.”

I exploded into laughter, and soon tears began rolling down my cheeks.

I could hear more laughter coming from my father. It was just like my mother to do such a thing. We were all laughing at this point, and I tried to ask if she was okay, but gave up. If she was laughing this hard, then she was fine. Just an average day for my mother.

Over the years, she has done some pretty hilarious things, and she always comes out laughing at herself. Ever eager to share her stories, she is often the topic of conversation at family gatherings. Being able to laugh at yourself is one of the lessons that my mother has taught me.

I have learned to take note of her antics. For example:

1. Don’t put flour on strawberries. It tastes bad and is difficult to wash off. Use sugar instead.

2. When heating up hot water, do not blame the microwave after the timer goes off and you remove your cold mug. The kitchen cabinet was not made to heat water.

3. When you are unable to find the milk in the refrigerator, try looking in the cupboards.

4. When taking out the trash, don’t leave it downstairs. The garbage man does not have a key to your house, and it might start to smell after a while.

Her hijinks aren’t limited to the house—parking lots are another source of amusement. One time, she and my father went to the movies at the local mall, and freezing rain was coming down as they left the theater. Not wanting to get her hair wet, my mother started jogging to the car. With the slippery pavement, it wasn’t long before she fell onto her stomach and slid quite a distance, past a group of teenagers heading into the mall. She was laughing, but clearly remembers hearing one of the teens ask his friends, “Did you see that old lady?” It only made her laugh harder.

She can often be seen walking the rows of automobiles, looking for her car because she forgot she drove my dad’s. Once, she even unloaded her groceries into the wrong car, not knowing it until she got into the driver’s seat and realized, “I don’t have bucket seats.” Quickly, she retrieved her cart to unpack her purchases and went in search of her car again.

Another favorite tale from the parking lot: While walking to my uncle’s car in Florida, she was talking with my aunt and not paying much attention. She got into the back seat of the car and closed the door. In the front seat, a little old man she had never met turned around and asked, “What are you doing?”

Shocked, she said simply, “Oh, wrong car.” As she opened the door to leave, she offered the man some advice: “You should really lock your doors.”

My uncle and aunt were standing by the correct car, laughing. My mother scurried over and got in, laughing the entire time.

Cars and Florida are a bad combination for my mother. After finishing a game of golf, my parents, uncle, and aunt stopped at a restaurant for dinner. My mother was changing out of her golf shoes in the back seat as my father parked, got out of the car with my uncle and aunt, and locked the door behind him. With the child-resistant locks on, and unable to reach the locks on the driver’s side door, my mother was locked inside, the Florida sun beating down on her. The others had entered the restaurant and were seated before they realized she was not with them. Looking out the window next to their table, they spotted her banging on the rear window, waving frantically and laughing. They all burst out laughing, too, causing other customers to notice my mother locked in the car. My father made his way outside and unlocked the doors. When they returned to the restaurant, all the customers and staff were still laughing.

My mother offers much humor to this family and to others. Laughter is the best medicine, and with her background in nursing, it is no wonder that she uses laughter to make people better.

~D.K. Laidler

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