My husband and I raised five children, and I think we got through the challenges of a large family by using humor. It can pretty well diffuse any situation, although the humor might not always be apparent right away. Some things have to age somewhat before they take on comic proportions.
For instance, spilling a pan of chicken broth on the kitchen floor didn’t make me laugh until I quit sliding past the sink as I took my first step into the room.
It was difficult to laugh about one of my kids storing her unwanted sandwiches in the bench next to the table, especially when it was my neighbor who found them a few weeks later.
It took me a good two weeks to find anything amusing about the youngest two playing dress-up and taking all the clothes off the hangers in their closet.
I was sure I would never see the humor in our son losing one of his tennis shoes or the 15 futile trips he made to the creek to look for it. And to think, when I saw a shoe in the street, I used to wonder how someone could lose just one shoe.
I knew I could live to be at least 90 before I’d laugh about the fact that I couldn’t get my kids to go outside and play until I mentioned that it was time to clean house.
It took six months to see the humor in the time that one of my kids swept the kitchen floor, and later I went in to find six spoons, three bowls, two dried up old sandwiches and the contents of at least two boxes of cereal under the table.
Equally difficult to laugh about was the time that one kid threw his cereal bowl at his brother, who ducked, so the bowl hit the window and broke it.
At least that’s the story I got.
I used to wonder if all the spilled milk, chairs covered with soggy cereal, buttered bread dropped on the floor face down, or the macaroni noodles that have squished through my toes as I walked across the kitchen floor, would even qualify as fond memories when I’m old and gray, let alone be funny.
Now that I am both, I’ve decided that all those family escapades are funny. And to tell the truth, they were pretty funny back then, too. In fact, I used to write about the family nonsense in a weekly column. It was along the lines of what Erma Bombeck used to write, and I always thought some day I would combine the collection in a book.
Well, it’s “someday” now.
I’m working on a book that I describe as “The Devil Wears Prada, meets Erma Bombeck.” I’m not sure if it will get published. I’ll worry about that later. But I sure am having fun going through all the old columns and revisiting the nonsense that we called family.
I’m about halfway through the project, and I will periodically post a segment here when I don’t have anything to rant about.