I don't go on long laughing or crying jags thanks, I think, to the 10 mg of Namenda I take each night. But I do often have a wheezy, nerdy kind of laugh. Think Jerry Lewis, during the Lewis-Martin era. It's kind of a nasal chuckle, and it comes in response to stress, difficulty speaking due to my current cough and cold, or humor. It lasts about a second, though if I am self-conscious there might be two or three in a series, as I try to recover and be normal.
Lately my son has been imitating these laughs. This is stressful and funny, and so I laugh again, and he repeats me, which sets me off again. And so on. He doesn't seem malicious about it, but it feels like teasing.
It turns out he's objecting.
Friday morning I was wheeze-laughing and he imitated me from all the way in the other room. This makes me self-conscious and stressed, so I wheeze-laughed again. He imitated me several more times but thankfully I had the ability to keep a straight face and bellow that I didn't like being teased.
He called back "But I don't like that evil laugh."
My lovely wife and I both said it wasn't evil, and that I can't help it. Rather than coming back with offensive nonsense as so many five-year-olds including ours normally do, he asked what we meant.
We said that I couldn't help it. I said that it was the same problem that made me limp and that made me talk slowly.
My daughter was also listening to all this, so she heard the explanation too. The message I hope she got was: Yes Daddy is unusual in how he moves and talks and sounds, but there is an explanation, and we can accept it and move on.
My son will no doubt object more in the future and tease me more, because it is the duty of five-year-olds to complain especially hard about things which have already been explained to them as not being cause for complaint.
But I hope that he now has an explanation, and that he can understand that it's not "evil."