I am going to tell you an uncomfortable story, so please make yourself comfortable.
Trigger warning - no-one was injured and the hardboiled egg only suffered from slight cracking.
When my daughter was younger I attended her school’s sports day alone as the only ‘lone parent’ without a significant other. Unfortunately due to the inclement Scottish weather the event had to follow the wet weather plan and was transferred to a very small stuffy community hall. It soon became apparent that the planned outdoor field sports were not transferable to this diminutive alternative venue. In the hall I sat by myself with my contorted legs folded under a very small sports bench and watched with shy anticipation as the children warmed up with star jumps, running on the spot and stretching exercises. The event started with an official blast of the teacher starter whistle. Unfortunately due to the limited space as the children started to move they crashed into each other, they fell over like dominoes and without intent hit each other with small bean bags. Despite this the surrounding parents and carers shouted encouragement with gusto, externally tensed at the oncoming inevitable collisions and behaved like the thoroughly good folk that they are.
During the event I sat quietly benched on the unofficially designated lone parent area, until one of the audiences preschool children broke free from their parents grasp and ran into the ensuing chaos. The school teacher blew their whistle and ran into the melee waving a hula hoop to try to stop the activities. As a result the startled competing children crashed into each other trying to avoid the smaller child. It was carnage! The horrified parents who had congregated socially on the back wall of the hall gasped and someone’s grandmother heroically grabbed their grandchild out of the confusion.
From my seated position I held my breath, I felt my face getting redder, tears started to leak from my eyes and my body began to shake. Oh my days is this really happening! I knew that I couldn’t drop my mask and let the school fraternity see my internal struggle come to the forefront.
I caught sight of my daughter in the middle of the anarchy intent on balancing an egg on a spoon, seemingly totally unaware of the disorder all around her.
It was at that very moment that I was overwhelmed and I couldn’t keep my composure I erupted into the type of laughter that felt like it came from my very soul. As things started to calm down and the school teacher caught the runaway child by encircling them in a protective hula hoop. The children began to still and the room quietened except for a hee-hawing noise that reverberated throughout the hall. Over the baying donkey sound I heard my daughter exclaim in a loud stern accusatorial voice…. MUM! I looked over at her annoyed little face and realised that she had dropped her egg.
I felt the heat of a sea of disapproving eyes laser focused on me, as I sat shaking on my bench of shame unable to keep my sensibilities in check. I am ashamed to say that this made things even funnier, the more they judged me disapprovingly the more my inappropriate laughter ramped up and up. So I did the only decent thing that I could do, I removed myself from the stimuli and went to the lavatory to calm down. As I looked at my tear stained, puffy red face I thought bad mum………..bad human……..what a weirdo laughing at maelstrom of slips, trips, collisions and pathos of the situation.
If humour is subjective, then am I immoral and do I have an outsiders subconscious need for a sense of superiority?
I describe my sense of humour as a pizza built on an ‘observational’ base with a good helping of the ‘absurd’, a topping of ‘toilet’ humour accompanied with big pineapple chunk of ‘slapstick’.
It could be that as middle aged female lone parent without a partner that I disassociate from certain unwelcoming echelons of society and as such I create a psychological distance that disables my natural empathy when in an observational role. However, I don’t consider my psychology to be that basic.
Moreover, it’s my neurology and those pesky little mirror neurons that get a wee bit funky in the front of my brain. I am highly affected by the energy of others, for example I share the sadness of a crying person and love to delight in the happiness of others.
To conclude, I found the official sports day situation inexplicably; wonderful, silly, intimidating and almost surreal, and as a result I deemed it side splittingly funny.
I often feel like an alien trapped in a weird neurotypical construct that is governed by a set of social norms/rules, that to me at times seem quite absurd. To witness sports day with its traditions, to feel the gravity of its competitive seriousness, to be subjected to the parental hierarchy all descend into a state of physical chaos made me feel part of a wider joke that I could identify with. Unfortunately it was not a shared joke and the sadness of this made me find it even funnier.
This blog post was to be focused on another situation which happened more recently, when I laughed so much at a video of people falling over due to inconceivable circumstances that my tears of mirth turned to tears of heart wrenching woe. Oh the pathos of the absurdity of this world… I identify simultaneously with both the joy and sadness it offers.
This article may make some readers uncomfortable for which I am sorry, but this thought also brings me comfort, for which I am not sorry. Neurodiversity unmasking is complex and uncomfortable for the majority, no matter your neurology. It’s not black or
white – for clarification that’s a wee neurodiversity joke! Lol