I am eight years old and riding in the backseat of our silver Cougar on the way home from church. It’s cold but we live in Wisconsin so that’s just par for the course. My brother stares out the window memorizing every street sign and landmark we pass, as he was known for his astute observations when riding in cars.
I am watching my parents. I’m seeing their interaction. I don’t remember what they were talking about on this day – I’m not even sure I could hear them. But I know they’re happy. I know this because my dad laughs.
Clearly I, too, am astute in observation, yes?
The sound of my dad’s laugh always made my heart soar. It was so delightful, so spontaneous. When Dad laughed, I swore that two more stars popped up in the atmosphere. It just seemed magical to hear him laugh out loud.
Mom followed suit, adding in her own cackle. As we drove down the road, they laughed hysterically. Though Brett and I didn’t have a clue what was funny, we joined in the merriment, because who can sit stoney faced when a delightful joke has been told? We laughed all the way home, not because anything was spectacularly funny, but because the joy had spread and we bubbled over.
Last night, we went with the kids to a Family Night at the Magic House for Tia’s preschool. As we drove home, Tia blessed us all with a meltdown of epic proportions. Her name hadn’t been drawn in the raffle and the world as she knew it was coming to an end. Couple that with the fact that she hadn’t had a nap that day and she was wickedly overstimulated and it seemed that life as this almost five year old knew it was devastated permanently.
For those who have been trapped in a car with a melting down four year old, you know the insanity that ensues. It is as if the car will implode with every tear shed, every moan, every groan, every kick of the feet. In perfect rhythm, Tia moaned. A deep, gutteral sound that seemed to resonate from her toes and work it’s way out of her mouth like the rumble of motorboat that comes up on you from behind, then roars past.
And I was losing my mind.
I turned and in my sternest mom voice commanded her to stop crying. Which, in case you’re wondering, commanding someone who’s crying out of control to stop is not effective. That piece of parenting advice comes to you free of charge.
So I tried the next tactic. I told her to keep crying, but just cry without making sound.
“Aaaaahhhhhhh.” “Aaaaaaahhhhhh.” “Aaaaaahhhhh…” came the reply. Like a sonic wave it repeated over and over and I felt my brain begin the painful process of implosion. So I resorted to what can only be reffered to as Stellar Parenting 101.
“Tia,” I said, my voice sharp – but loving…of course. “Stop crying. Now. Stop making sounds.” And then, as the next words flowed from my mouth I tried to make them stop. “Stop making sounds…from your throat.”
As soon as I said that, I heard how ridiculous it sounded. Lee snorted, I buried my face in my coat and we both lost it. Painful laughter. The kind that makes your stomach hurt. Tears flowing down our cheeks leaving a trail of joy and relief behind. We laughed out loud, doubled over, clutching our sides.
Her crying stopped. “Why are you laughing?” she demanded. We couldn’t answer. We were laughing too hard. And anyway, it was only funny to us – she wouldn’t understand.
Stop making sounds from your throat?
We howled and cackled and every synonym for laughter that you can think of, we did it. Before long, all three kids joined in. They didn’t understand. They didn’t know what was funny. They just knew that laughter and joy were present. My brain resolidified into a coherent, usable mass and once again the world was right. Tia forgot why she was crying and chose laughter instead.
And that was the day we saved the world…one cackle at a time.
I had a wonderful experience at Blissdom this year. I hope to tell you about it in bits and pieces through my posts. I was challenged in my writing, in thinking outside the box in business and in expanding my use of multimedia. Hopefully you will see the results of my time at Blissdom rather than have to read about them.