One misty grey morning, many years ago, I was leading a kindergarten class through a forest looking for Banana Slugs. We were practicing being silent. If someone found a slug, they were to stop and silently "point with their slug tentacles" (holding their fingers above their heads to look like tentacles) at the slug until everyone else in the group was doing the same thing.
We hadn't gone very far when the alpha boy at the front of the line spotted a slug. He immediately abandoned the silent bit (who can blame him?), but obediently raised his fingers above his head in a stellar slug impression and yelled back to his classmates "C'mon everybody put up your testicles!"
Being four and five years of age no one corrected him on his improper appendage naming. The children all dutifully raised their fingers above their heads and peered at the slug. Though I did annunciate tentacles a bit more the next time I used it, I pretty much carried on as though nothing unusual had just happened.
But it had, hadn't it? It was an excellent moment in time that I have never forgotten. There is much talk in environmental education of instilling a sense of wonder in children. There are many books about it. Being out in nature, being quiet, using our senses and just observing things around us helps us to be in the moment and notice things. It instills a connection to nature. It can also help one notice the funny. *I think it was Shakespeare who said "The sacred and the funny doth share the same sword" (*He did not, I just made that up.)
Any job, especially those laced with earnest intentions, can unexpectedly lurch into unintended hilarity. As is often the case when we install things with extra meaning, we tend to whisper, we encourage quiet, making the hilarious that much funnier. I refer you to giggling in quiet places of worship when one is not supposed to be laughing.
Over the years, as an educator, it has been the children and sometimes the animals, who have unwittingly pointed out the funny to me. (I am purposely here forcing out of my mind the kids who went to the dark side in the forest, threatened squirrels, cursed at teachers, pushed friends into blackberry bushes and so on). What I remember are the little darlings who unknowingly and in their pure earnestness put a smile in my heart if not my face when I had to pretend what they said was not funny.
There was the inner city student at the urban park who replied "Safeway" when I asked if anyone could give another example of a food chain. (We had been talking about predators, prey, herbivores and carnivores.)
A woman I was working with, asked the Christian school class she was teaching if they knew that people are also animals and a soft-spoken little boy replied "Yes, aren't we all lambs of God?"
And on that note Dear Reader I send you off into the wilderness of your day to pause here and there, be quiet and look for the funny. It could be just around the corner. And if all else fails stick up your testicles.