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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cancel My Appearance at the Apollo, I've Got Kids to Raise

You may not believe this, but I'm really funny in person. Oh, I know everyone says that, but I promise you it's true. If we were ever to meet, I would probably regale you with tales from my childhood until you wet yourself. I remember the first time I ever made someone outside of my family laugh - that euphoric feeling stayed with me for days. There is something about laughter that is very healing to me -- so it has become a close friend and I call upon it often to bail me out of uncomfortable social situations, among a myriad of other things.

Last week, an the spouse of an acquaintance asked me if I'd ever thought of becoming a stand-up comedienne, and I laughed. "Absolutely not," I replied. Then I thought about it for the rest of the day. What in the world would I say? Comedy is like sitting down to write a blog entry - if I try too hard, it doesn't work. It's situational and can't be forced. I would love to write eloquent and moving posts like the one Antique Mommy was awarded a perfect post for, but it will probably not happen. I would love to make nonsensical stuff funny the way BooMama does, but I just don't have that in me. It never occurs to me until after someone else has done it and by then, well, someone else has done it and it was never my idea.

I have never thought about the kind of humor I use until yesterday, when I heard my son call himself "an idiot" when he was playing a game. He's five. And he's most certainly not an idiot, I assure you. He is one of the most energetic, creative, imaginative and loving children I know. To hear him degrade himself that way really bothered me. I couldn't figure out why he would be talking about himself in such a manner - I try to encourage good qualities and instill confidence in him, but obviously, I am failing somewhere.

Then I thought about last week's conversation and my thoughts turned to the style of humor that I am most comfortable with. In fact, it is such a familiar friend that I don't even think about putting it on anymore, it's simply worn as a foundation piece, as essential as my undergarments. Self-deprecation. Any time people have found me funny, it's because I was making fun of myself or a situation I've been in. It's the only thing I've ever known. And I've unknowingly been teaching it to my children. Zig Ziglar once said, "Your children pay more attention to what you do than what you say." I remember as a child, my father saying to me, "Do as I say, not as I do," which was terribly confusing to me. It was a double standard and felt like little bit like hypocrisy.

John Maxwell says that "we teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are." Which explains my son's behavior. He's a perfect reproduction of the person he spends most of his time with -- me. Three times yesterday, I caught myself calling myself a silly name when I did something that I deemed avoidable, and three times I looked at my son and had to state to him that I had made a mistake, that I wasn't a "goofball", or a "dufus" or anything else. But the damage was done. It had already been recorded in his brain for instant playback the next time he made a silly mistake.

So today, I will push aside all thoughts of being a comedienne and think only on "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise", I will think on these things.


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Chilihead said...

I could have written this post myself and I wish I had! I, too, am self-deprecating and my children are learning that behavior. I am trying to be better about watching myself.

Woman in the Tent said...

This is so true. I learned it the hard way after 16 years and have spent the last two years thinking "what have I done" with my perfectionistic, can't be pleased son.
Blessings, Laura

Flea said...

Mmm. You are SO right. I hear my own words about myself come out of my children's mouths every day. Thank you for the verse.

Flea said...

Your middle name is Lou?

Amy said...

That is a great post. I wonder parts of my personality I am inadvertently passing on to my kids.

Renae said...

Someone once told me that children perfect the sins of their parents. While that is not exactly encouraging, it does mean we get to deal with our own shortcomings. As painful as it is sometimes, it is worth it. By the grace of God, our little ones will learn our good habits, too. Blessings to you as you reflect on the beautiful things today.