Laughing over Tuna Salad

Friday I spent a lot of time with an 18 year old, I’ll call her Heather (she’s the one with the Cinderella like step-mother which was confirmed again today). I can’t help but smile to myself when I think of her naiveté and awkwardness. We learned today that her family has received numerous social security payments in the past months which they have not given her. It’s not a small amount and their phone line appears to be in a continual state of disrepair. Internally I began to stew again about how she continues to be mistreated. Yet Heather was laughing in my car about practically anything I said. She made me feel like I could be a stand-up-comedian. She finds practically everything funny. What triggered the most laughter was our lunch. I took her out to lunch at a place that has great grilled cheese sandwiches and I shared with her I was excited about this. At the last minute I changed my order to chicken salad. She questioned me about my change and I told her “well you inspired me with your tuna salad order.” She thought this was hysterical and was laughing to the point I encouraged her to be a bit quieter. She repeated the humor of my comment probably 5 more times in our time together. Each time was followed by animated laughter.

When we checked in with the staff at her program she told them the “joke” as well…. to which they looked quizzically at me. Yeah… so I don’t get what was so funny about it either.

It’s not that I don’t love to laugh with kids, joke with them, and use humor a lot but stand-up comedy is not in my future. Sometimes I even make a mental note to myself to lighten up and laugh more. Heather somehow found laughter in my comment. (if you understand the humor you are welcome to explain it to me). I kept thinking she is finding humor in such a simple thing which in her life, of abandonment and essentially betrayal, is remarkable. She has not become hardened or bitter and though she does get angry at times that is not what she exudes. We laughed a lot over silly things – American Idol, that I finally got rid of my “old school” flip phone, and tuna salad. I don’t want to miss out on silly laughter that doesn’t make sense. Heather doesn’t realize that she truly does inspire me. The inspiration is not to change my lunch menu, but to find laughter in the mundane. More importantly her laughter inspires and reminds me not become hardened or bitter when I recognize injustice rather to keep moving forward, laughing often.

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Posted on February 26, 2011, in Social Work, Young Adults and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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