Today I watched Laurel torture the dog by saying “Mollie, Syrup!!” and pointing out the window.
If that doesn’t sound like torture, then it will help to know that I’ve told the children not to tell Mollie that there are squirrels outside (real or imagined). It’s mean if she can’t go outside and chase them down the street. Syrup may not sound like squirrel if you’re a five year old, but it does if you’re a dog. For some reason the children think tricking the dog is uproariously funny. Being mean is often funny at some level.
I commenced a good lecture. My reasoning was impeccable. And in the middle of that really great lecture, Laurel gravely informed me that I was calling her Bethel.
Whew! The conversation (if you can call a lecture a conversation) was instantly deflated. I was forced to stop lecturing and smile. It was a good smile, because that smile changed my whole tone, even though I don’t really know how it happened. I got my point across, and my correction was appropriately short.
I’ve had this happen before, more than once. I’ve said something like, “Take this plate to the laundry room” in a too-stern voice. When I hear a little giggle, I am forced to add with a straight face, “And then take it to the sink!” The humor changes the whole tone of our conversation, for the better.
Did Jesus ever use humor in his instruction and teaching? Why, yes, I think we can see this in Scripture. Blind leading the blind? Take out the plank in your eye first? Go and learn what this means… You’re like little children playing in the marketplace. As for me, I have no idea how to be deliberate in humor as it relates to parenting, but at this point I’m simply observing the impact of humor in our home.