I was told this week by someone I was close to that my teasing had been hurting their feelings. I was so surprised and felt very badly about it. It had never occurred to me, that I was being insensitive or mean. I was very hurt.
Part of it I think, is because of the families we grow up in. Maybe this person’s family didn’t tease often or in the same way that mine does. In my family, we are always gently poking fun at each other and teasing. If it ever did hurt, we let the other know right away, and they wouldn’t do it again. But I don’t remember that ever being a problem.
The boys, Dad and Chris, are especially big on teasing and even good-natured name calling when in competition with each other. They love jeering and laughing…all in fun. For example “My grandma could do that better in her sleep!!!” All silly…all teasing…all in fun.
Mom is one of the best sports I know. She pokes fun at herself all the time…including her hearing loss and balance problems. She doesn’t cry or become embarrassed when she doesn’t hear something or stumbles because of her balance. She’ll laugh at herself, which makes us feel like we can laugh WITH her. I have always admired this about my mom. When she mishears something, (and sometimes she can be really OFF on what she hears), she is always the one to lead the laughing. She lets herself kindly and lovingly be teased. And I consider her a sensitive person…but not in a defensive way.
Everyone in my family has learned there is a time to tease. For instance, if mom is treated like she is a lesser person because of her hearing loss at some meeting or errand, we don’t laugh. We try to comfort and are righteously angry on her behalf. If I mess up in front of people while giving some sort of small speech, they won’t laugh. They will comfort and hug.
But we’ve all learned to laugh at the small mistakes and to tease each other. This situation with this person has taught me to be careful with who I tease or how I do it. (For example, teasing over instant messaging may not be the best, since there is no facial expression or voice). I can’t expect everyone to be like my family, and they know me better than anyone. They know the way I tease and how I mean it. It has also made me appreciate my Mom, who can laugh at the things that happen with her hearing loss and balance, and in doing so, she creates an atmosphere of cheerfulness… not depression. She is amazing and I really admire her.