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On the news last month, teachers were interviewed about the walk-out in Los Angeles. “We’re striking!” one woman said. And I said back to the screen, “Wow. Conceited much?” 🙂 I jest, of course, and don’t mean to make light of this real problem. Teachers shouldn’t have to go without a raise for ten years. Or teach to a classroom of fifty students. Teachers should be treated like gold. And paid the same way! Still, levity always finds its way into our lives, and I’d like to propose that comic relief should be taught in schools as well.

There’s so much pressure on kids today. They’re mandated by law to go to a particular public school. All day long, at home and at school, every adult they see is their boss. And of course, as the law of the jungle says, every student in a higher grade is, too.

I think that comedy, in the right doses — and with only modest levels of snark — can be a form of communication, as well as a form of therapy. Maybe it should actually be part of the curriculum.

“I saw this sign posted once; it said, ‘Blasting Zone Ahead.’ Wow. Shouldn’t that read, ‘Road Closed’?” This joke is from one of my favorite comedians, Brian Regan.  

Telling a joke — and having it land — is both an art and a science. Maybe it can be quantified. Or maybe it can’t. Then it would also be philosophy. Comedy could also help with public speaking and socialization. And it’s the kind of homework students wouldn’t mind doing. In closing, here’s an oldie but a goodie: What did the Zen Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything. Ba-dum-bum. Good night! We’re here all week!

“Always do the right thing.”

Up until the end of last year, I used this phrase almost every day to remind my son of what was important.

Then I did what I felt was the right thing, but it had repercussions that didn’t feel so right after all.

I found myself in a funk. One day, my son said to me, tactfully, “Ma, you’ve been telling me to let you know what’s on my mind instead of holding it in. I wanted to tell you… well, you’re all tense lately and it’s bringing me down.”

Surprised by his candor, I realized that he was right.

So when I noticed today that my son was down, I returned the favor of unvarnished honesty:

“Get your zhoozh back, honey. You’re bringing me down.”

So, really. How do you find your way out of a deep, dark funk?

Well, you learn how to “un-funk” yourself.

Do something to change the channel your mind is on. Get up and leave the room if this is where the funk began. Go out. Walk the dog. Listen to Brian Regan (a rare clean comic). Go to the bakery and ogle the cannolis.  Write a haiku. Watch Keyboard Cat.  Watch Nyan Cat. Watch Ella scat. 

It is possible to climb out of a funk, but it takes time. As of this year, I’ve officially retired the phrase, “Always do the right thing,” since “The right thing” is often subjective and elusive. Now when my son asks my opinion, I say, “It’s your world.” As in, I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m going to remember that sometimes the best way to encourage someone you love is just to be there. Provide prayer and practical advice and leave it all in God’s hands.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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