Cultivating a Sense of Humor in Your Child

Janice at the FarmHaving a sense of humor is a great asset in life. If we can teach our children to be positive and learn to make life fun, then they can face any challenge that comes their way.

My mother has a naturally positive outlook. It’s not that nothing bad has ever happened to her. She certainly has had her share of heartache and disappointments. Mom chose to accept the fact that sometimes things can go horribly wrong. She has learned to accept the little and the sometimes not so little bumps in the road of life, and not let them steal her joy. She tries to find the good in every situation.

Mom worked to pass this same philosophy on to her children, especially her disabled daughter, Janice. While Janice only functions at the age of an eight year old, she was smart enough to know that she was different from other kids. Mom worked tirelessly to help Janice not only reach her full potential in life, but to accept her limitations and learn to find fun and laughter wherever she could.

The following is reprinted with permission from the Farm Facts Newsletter from where Janice worked for twenty years. It’s a great example of the impact of my mother’s positive attitude on Janice.

Shootin’ the Breeze with Janice Evanger

“Remember around ten years ago when every new Jim Carey movie left us with a handful of fresh catchphrases – from ‘Ssssmoking!’ to ‘Alrighty then!’ – until you had to go see the next one just to keep on top of things? Well, Janice Evanger has become our own comedy superstar, loading the farm up with an endless series of jokes and one-liners that we can’t get out of our heads. From her harrowing yet colorful accounts of the previous night’s episode of Cops to her lunchroom banter (for the uninformed, the Tuna Fish Sandwich is the preeminent lunch item, to trounce anything from fair-burgers to gourmet lasagna in a war of comparison), Janice is keeping us in healthy stitches. Just ask her what year she was born and she’ll say, “Well, I don’t remember, it’s been so long.” Ever hear a Farm and Garden’s member respond to a piece of your good news with “Lucky!”, or shout “What!?” at a surprising revelation? Both, you can be assured are Janice-esque word choices. But, the delivery is all her own, never to be reproduced.

From where does she draw her comedic inspiration? It may be the heaping scoop of instant coffee that gets stirred without fail into a mug-full of hot water after both breakfast and lunch; it may come as she tears journal pages in the craft room, or as she fills pots in the greenhouse. Or, it may come during the lighter moments, when Janice, always eager for play, gets a mischievous spark in her eye and instigates a water fight wherever water can be had. We do not know where Janice develops her material, or if it is all improvised. Either way, we are grateful.

In a previous life, Janice was a radio announcer for 97.3 KBSG, during which time she was able to memorize every single song written between January 1, 1960 and December 31, 1979. Her act is not limited to jokes, ladies and gentleman: she’s go those songs down. But, radio wasn’t enough for Janice, and she had to depart in order to come work with us, where she has been since 1987.

Next time you call the Farm, cross your fingers and your call just might be answered, “L’Arche Farm and Gardens, this is Janice Evanger, how can I make your day?”

That awesome positive attitude was something my mother worked to instill in Janice every day. Remember, this is the child that the doctor said would never walk or talk and should just be left in an institution. My mother’s positive outlook and determination proved him wrong. Help your child learn to face life’s challenges with a sense of humor. A great attitude will take you far in life.


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