I can’t smile wide enough.

Had a tweet last night after speaking at the Salford Maternity Conference saying i’d tackled important issues with great humour. It’s got me thinking…

I’ve never been really, really serious but what I was was crushingly shy as a kid.  In primary school I was one of those kids who hung back on everything, mainly on account of being pretty chubby.  I wasn’t one of the in crowd of footballers or fast runners (the defining benchmark for ALL primary aged boys, certainly in the early 1980’s), but I remember that whilst I was never the class clown I loved laughing at them. Not with them, as that would require empathy and for gods sake I was about 10, but laughing AT them.  I loved the banter between our old teacher Mr Callow and the class clowns, the put downs, the jokes, it had a huge impact on the 10 yr old me.  I was, incidentally, allergic to drawing, still am, but I loved the escapism of writing.

So, nearly 30 years later.  Humour? Well, if that’s meant as I don’t take the shit too seriously then yes, hopefully that’s how it appears.  Reality is though that humour and what is going on for real are two pretty disconnected things really.  The old ‘tears of a clown’ cliche is well, a cliche.  I’m far, far from a clown in the way the cliche gets applied mainly but I do identify with the pure energy and escapism that having a laugh gives.  I sit at lunchtimes at work and have sarcastic, offensive snipey banter with three mates and for a half hour or whatever the pressure and stress of everything else can wait.  The depression i’ve had? Not there.  The stress of Isaac’s school transition? Not there. The horrid dark thoughts about Isaac’s future? Not there.  They’ll have their place, i’ve not managed to totally beat those demons, but when you’re having a laugh then it’s not there.

Same to a point when i’m talking at Uni’s, conferences etc.  The subject matter of talking about Isaac is happy, without a doubt. It brings out a laugh now and again.  That’s brilliant, Isaac’s a happy little chappy.  There’s sometimes bits  of what I talk about that are hard hitting for me, one bit that always, always gets me is recounting leaving the boys and lynsey behind on the day they were born and driving home with them in different parts of the hospital. I can think that thought any given time and it evokes such a vivid memory of the emptiness of that walk back to the car.  My way of dealing with it in talks is just to plough on, hit it. Every time I hit it it should be easier but what must be 80 times later it’s still hard.  Thing is its not as hard if you’ve got people in a lighter mood. Last thing I want is people crying ; I’m a bloke for gods sake I can’t handle emotion….!

‘If you didn’t laugh you’d cry’ – crap cliche or truth? I don’t really know.  What I do know is that by allowing a bit of laughing in a room when covering some bleak aspects it creates a bit more thinking.  If it was just ‘oh my god, how terrible, how sad’ then a) it wouldn’t be the reality, because holding Isaac accountable for any unhappiness around him is a crime and b) people switch off.

What I am aware of, and don’t want to come across as, is that having a bit of a light hearted perspective about talking in front of groups is to lessen the importance of what i’m always trying to get across ; Isaac has had amazing care and the extra 1% that people put in because of their values matters.

2 thoughts on “I can’t smile wide enough.

  1. I heard you speak at Salford last Friday and thought you managed to find the perfect balance of seriousness and humour whilst telling us your journey (and Lynsey and Luke’s) since you discovered that you were expecting twins. May I wish you and your family all the very best and hope you continue to inform and educate people about cerebral palsy in the fantastic way that you do!

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