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  • Writer's pictureastrid v.j.

Learn to Laugh at Life - Edvard’s Motto

We tend to take life very seriously, and it makes us terribly severe. In recent years, university campuses have been plagued by intolerance and people have called up twitter storms over some perceived slight or injustice. In part, this fuelled how I developed Edvard’s character in Elisabeth and Edvard - The Siblings’ Tale. Edvard’s motto is:

Edvard from Elisabeth and Edvard - The Siblings' Tale. Fanart courtesy of my fabulous sister E.

Learn to laugh at life (because it’s funny).

Although Edvard doesn’t feature much in Aspiring, Part 1 of the Siblings’ Tale, we do find out that his pranks had a cruel streak and often caused Elisabeth much pain. However, as he grows up, he does develop into a decent person who enjoys a spot of fun. At times, in Becoming, Part 2 of the Siblings’ Tale he teases his sister, but, overall, he is much kinder.

From a psychological perspective, we need laughter. It is very important in our lives to maintain our well-being, but often, as adults, we don’t have much of an outlet for amusement. Even movies have been affected by this trend in seriousness. Just look at children’s movies these days. Moana and Frozen don’t have any of the material for laughter that the mice in Cinderella provoke in a three-year-old (I know this from personal experience).

Everything has become serious, even childhood. Children can’t run and play as they used to. They don’t have the freedom to have fun the way they did. The recent animated movie, The Little Prince, is testament to this over-burdening of children with seriousness. We expect our primary-school children to get good grades and have a string of extra-curricular activities. They receive hours of homework, preventing them from going out and playing in the fresh air. Televisions and computers only compound this problem. Free play outside, especially for children growing up in cities, is a rare experience and many don’t even see it as a treat anymore. It’s “boring”.

Add to that the medicalisation of childhood. The over-diagnosis of the so-called attention-deficit hyperactivity “disorder” is a case in point. We expect children—who are meant to run outside from after breakfast until sundown—to sit still and concentrate for at least six hours a day, almost continuously. Then we’re surprised when they can’t focus and start hopping about. So, to “resolve” the “problem” we adults created by removing free play from the lives of children, we medicate them into a stupor. It feels like we are doing our children a disservice, and if anything, perhaps projecting that they will eventually get their own back when we are old and decrepit, could help us rethink our strategy... but I fear that is unlikely.

The disservice we are doing to our children goes even further, because children learn best through play and when they are having fun. This is scientifically confirmed. Neuroscience supports it and it is the reason why the Suzuki method is such a successful educational tool. Our schooling system is actually stopping children from achieving their true potential because it stunts our ability to learn by forcing us to stop playing and learn while unhappy. Children have curious minds that should be stimulated so they will grow to be inquisitive minds that find solutions to complex problems.

With Edvard’s character, I would like my readers to embrace the fun that is childhood, and reacquaint themselves with it in adulthood. We need to laugh more and get out and have fun. We need to give children a break—yes, I know, sometimes they can be cruel when they are left to their own devices—but we need to still give them room for creativity within the compass of acceptability in our society. We also need to accept that not everything that is offensive is malicious. Sometimes, a hint of offensiveness is just fun for the sake of being funny—and that’s actually okay. As long as no one is hurt, and I mean physically hurt, by someone else’s fun, then honestly, it is probably going to be okay.

I am currently reading an amazing book which is amazingly satirical, and it is refreshing to have an author who dares to take on every possible group and satirise common, stereotypical actions. It reminds me that we are allowed to have fun at our own expense, that we are allowed to see the humour in a situation and that there is no harm done when we are tolerant of difference while still poking fun at it. Edvard is just such a character. He loves to see the funny side of everything, including himself. I know, I for one have always been way too serious, and it is something I would like to work on again, to see the lighter side to life and not always get bogged down in the humourlessness of existence. Funny things happen every day and when we don’t notice them, it is our loss.

What do you think about the state of childhood today? Do you have any thoughts on how serious we've become and our intolerance for "a spot of fun"?

Please share your insights and contribute to the discussion. I would love to know your thoughts and learn from your experiences. Feel free to comment or send me an email. Thank you for reading. Sign up here so you don’t miss my next blog post and more on the social issues I like to consider and have woven into my writing.

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