Some of you who miss Ann Cannon have suggested that we put in a little more humor and a little more comic relief in this column.
And that is certainly not an unreasonable request, since parenting and family life is filled with humor.
At least in retrospect!?
In families, crisis plus time usually equals humor.
Like the time all the kids spilled their milk at on meal, or the time the whole family had the stomach flu during a cross-country road trip, or the time the dog had puppies in the shower of the motor home during the summer vacation.
None of it one bit funny at the time but now enshrined as some of our oft-told and most-enjoyed (and most laughed about) family memories.
When it comes to the here and now, to the day-to-day, what we need to do is remember what G. K. Chesterton said:
"The reason the angels can fly is that they have learned to take themselves lightly."
When you are looking for it, family-centered humor happens all the time.
Like the day Linda went to the supermarket by herself for a change She was walking around the aisles, feeling free, unburdened by even one child in her shopping cart, and her sense of freedom and joy was enhanced even further by the contrast she felt with another mom who was there and trying to cope with a screaming 2-year old in her cart.
Linda heard the mom trying to quiet her "terrible" 2-year-old.
"Now Jennifer, we just need to pick up a few items. It won't take long." She went down the aisle, but Linda (and everyone else in the store) knew exactly where she was because that baby never quit shrieking.
Linda encountered the desperate young mom again at the dairy case, and by now she was hyperventilating a bit and saying, "Now Jennifer, (pant, pant) just a couple more things (pant, pant) and then we will be out in the fresh air and we can breathe."
They both happened to get to the checkout counter at the same time, and Linda caught her arm and said, "I just have to tell you how much I admire the calm way you talk to your child."
The young mom looked a little confused and then said, "Oh, there's something you should know, I'm Jennifer."
Doesn't it seem like that's how it is some days?
We have to talk to ourselves — to talk our way through the difficult, distracting, dismaying mayhem of parenting — trying hard to stay calm, to keep some semblance of control, even if it is just a baby step at a time.
We have to remind ourselves that sometime, in retrospect, all this will be funny!
A friend told us of an all too typical morning, trying to get her kids to stop fighting in the back of the minivan and having little success.
About the time she thought her eardrums would burst from the screaming, she noticed a drive-in window and thought maybe a little snack would distract them. Maybe their blood sugar was just low, she hoped.
She pulled into the drive-through lane and the voice on the speaker said, "May I help you?"
"Oh yes," she said, "four happy meals with root beers."
There was a pause, and then the voice said, "Ah, Ma'am, did you know that you are at the drive-up window of the bank?
If there was ever a time of year for we parents to focus on taking ourselves lightly, it is Christmastime.
Let's all remember the reason the angels can fly and give our kids (and ourselves) the gift of lightening up!
New York Times No. 1 bestselling authors Linda and Richard Eyre are the parents of nine children and, by coincidence, the authors of nine internationally distributed parenting and life-balance books. They lecture throughout the world on family related topics. Visit them at www.TheEyres.com or www.valuesparenting.com.
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