When I rang my friend in Christchurch the other night, his 13 year old son answered the phone. “You must have got quite a shake up by the earthquake” I said. “Nah, not really, it was nothing”, he shot back offhandedly. I was taken aback but didn't pursue the conversation at the time.
Later his father told me that he had stopped his son making inappropriate jokes about the earthquake. At that point I saw clearly how this was the boy’s way of dealing with the scary shake.
It’s not unusual for a 13 year old boy to pretend his is not scared. He certainly wouldn’t want to cry so telling jokes is a good way to avoid that.
There are many reasons why people can’t say directly what is affecting them. They express their emotions ‘sideways’ which can be off-putting if you are on the receiving end. Be patient, keep accepting the other person no matter what, don’t push them to tell you how they are feeling and when they are ready they may share what is really worrying them.