On the Ice Bucket Challenge and Apologizing for Happiness

Smileyes By Ramesh NG via Wikimedia Commons

Smileyes By Ramesh NG via Wikimedia Commons

My youngest son wanted me to video his friend dumping a bucket of cold water over his head, joining the masses participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This was back a couple of weeks ago when it was all the rage. I agreed and probably laughed about it. My son then proceeded to make a snarky comment and went outside to join his friend who was waiting in our driveway with the bucket.

Stunned by my fifteen-year-old’s comment, I stood in the kitchen, at war over whether to call him out on it, but also feeling pressure to go outside and take the video. He doesn’t usually say such things, but the past few days, I’d noticed an edge to him that hadn’t been there before.

When he came on the porch looking for me, I motioned him into the house. I told him that if he wanted me to do something nice for him (take the video), he needed to be nicer to me and apologize for his comment (the words to which I can’t even recall any more).

He apologized and we had a rather heated discussion about what was wrong. It turns out, it’s all my fault. I was laughing too much. It annoyed him.

Now, even if I do say so myself, my laugh is not annoying. In fact, back when phone contact was the norm, my Allstate agent used to call me and crack jokes just to hear me laugh. He actually admitted this to me. My laugh is hearty, yes, but not unusually frequent. And I’m not one of those people who goes around smiling all the time. But, as you can probably tell from this blog, I do have an easy and strange sense of humor, and enjoy laughing when I have the chance.

Before I knew what was coming out of my mouth, I apologized to my son for being a happy person. In part, I did it to show him the absurdity of his complaint. I also did it because he had apologized to me and I was trying to move the discussion forward. Other parts of our conversation revolved around the need for him to find a way to deal with hearing his mother laugh. I have many things I could be sad about. I’m nowhere near as resilient as I used to be, but I’m not about to stop laughing any time soon. Afterwards, we went outside and commenced with the icewater dumping.

Last night, we had an airing out session about several things, and we talked more about the Terrible Awful Problem of having a happy mom. I told my son it’s rather normal for teenagers to get annoyed, especially when they are sleep-deprived. The day before the annoyance incident happened, he had his friend over for a “sleepover,” which usually involves almost anything but sleeping. We also talked about how annoyance over little things can be a waste of time and energy, and we both laughed about how silly it was to be annoyed by happiness. He assured me his annoyance wasn’t because he was unhappy, but because of hearing my laugh so often lately.

If having a happy mom is the worst issue for my son, I’d say we are doing all right.

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