“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”
-Dolly Parton, Steel Magnolias
Are they laughing? No, crying. No…laughing. Crying? Sometimes it’s hard to tell what that emotion is coming from down the hall. I don’t know whether I want in on the joke, or if it’s time for my game face and I should have some creative punishments at the ready.
But sometime’s it’s both! Laughter and tears! Not the kind of tears that come when you laugh so hard you can hardly breathe. No, no. Real, vehement tears of anger. Mixed in with the laughing. I know, it’s an emotion I hardly understand. I can only tell you it usually occurs during games of tag or chase. The laughter comes with the adrenaline rush of pursuit, and the tears manifest when the object of pursuit is caught, pummeled and tickled. Should I intervene? I can’t tell if they’re laughing again.
I suppose we too have emotions that boggle our children’s minds. Like before I leave on a trip and inspect them over like one does a rental car (“okay, that scratch was already there, note the bruise on the right shin…) telling them how exciting this trip will be and what do they want me to bring back for them…then sobbing out the door, barley able to see straight. (I thought Mom wanted to go to Fiji?)
Or like, why does Paul cry when he watches the U.S. women’s soccer team beat Brazil in the world cup? (Genuine tears, folks. Genuine tears.) While at the same time smiling through the fist pumps? Or why both Paul and I were emotional wrecks when we watched the final episode of Lost, even though neither of us could completely understand what the heck was even going on. (I only know I needed an Advil in the morning.)
Even Baby Jane can turned from smiles to tears to smiles again on a dime. Games of peek-a-boo can be an emotional roller coaster for a three month old.
But it’s good to feel emotions. They remind you that you are alive, part of the human experience. Without them, we’d be disconnected robots, droning through the motions.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear some shouting down the hall. Are they laughing? Crying? I can’t tell.
Only one way to find out.