This weekend I attended two shows by a fantastic comedian, Brad Williams, who happens to be a dwarf. When we went for a drink with him, I asked how he became so funny. He said that as a kid, his father, who is “tall” like the rest of his family, told him that he would be stared at and made fun of his whole life.
His dad said that he had two choices:
1) he could be hurt and feel sorry for himself, or
2) he could make jokes and put others at ease while also educating them about his condition.
To help Brad, his dad would practice teasing and offending him so that he could practice responding with his quickly developing wit. By having increasingly hard-ball comments thrown at him, Brad developed the ability to crack the ball right back with double the impact. Not only can he deflect potential insults, but people feel at ease with him due to his total acceptance of himself, making him a confident and enjoyable man to be around.
It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children. I would tell my child that when people tease or bully others, it comes from a place of fun, ignorance, or their own feelings of inadequacy. In any of these cases, it’s best for the child not to show vulnerability or take things personally. Helping a child to develop an attitude of resilience and humor may be the best way to disarm a potentially hostile world.
by Alison Poulsen