Laughing

It is free, safe, legal, and makes you feel better.  It is a stress reliever and enjoyable.  Laughing.

I love to start my day with a breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, and the comics. My favorites are Family Circus, Zits, and the older I become the more I love, Pickles.  Laughing is good for us.  An ancient biblical proverb says “A merry heart does good, like medicine.”

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My favorite movies are comedies or romantic comedies.  A drama or action film is acceptable as along as it has at least some comedic relief.   There are several family friendly comedians whom I enjoy.  I think the best are Tim Hawkins and Jim Gaffigan. In the night stand in my guest room I have a stack of comic books which include Keane’s I’m Taking a Nap!; Wilson’s The Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons; McPherson’s Dangerously Close to Home; and Schulz’s Teen-Ager is Not a Disease.  I want my guests to laugh also.

It is good to laugh at ourselves. We all make mistakes and do silly things. I did not laugh when I crashed through a cabinet I was using as a step ladder and became trapped inside it with shards of splintered wood stabbing me.  I didn’t realize only the frame, and not the 3 flimsy shelves or its top, would be strong enough to support me.  I have had lots of laughs over it since that time.   I did not laugh immediately either when I backed into my friend’s car parked in my own driveway.  But it would have been hilarious on America’s Funniest Videos.  Especially because the video would have shown me speaking to him, walking past his vehicle, getting into mine and then plowing into his.  I am laughing now.

We always have a choice of how we will respond and react to situations.  Parents are being watched by children, who are not only seeing, but learning from you at all times.  Children also do and say very funny things.  I don’t recommend laughing at them unless they are also laughing.  Every parent has experienced having to hide laughter at their child’s antics while correcting or disciplining them.

I suggest you keep a journal of the funny things they say and do.  The physical act of writing will help you to remember it and later, maybe decades later, you will thoroughly enjoy rereading it and the memory will mentally transport you back to that time.

Here are just a few of my favorite entries from my funny things my kids did and said journal:

Eight year old son said, “I’m not normal.”  Mom cautiously asked, “What do you mean?”  He replied, “Most kids can make armpit noises like farts.”

Momma told four year old son he was good looking and someday the girls would be after him.  He said, “I’ll go out with them and then dump them with a dump truck.”

Three year old daughter looking out the window at the big pine trees said, “Look, Ma, hot dogs in the trees. We can climb up there and eat them.”  (she was looking at the elongated pinecones)

Take time today, especially if you are feeling stressed, to laugh, giggle, chortle, snicker, guffaw, hoot and even get slap-happy.  You will be glad you did and your family will be glad for your merrier heart.

 

P.S.  Comic books are a great way to motivate reluctant readers to enjoy reading.

Emergencies

Emergencies happen.  They are not planned and so one cannot truly prepare for them.  A few years ago there was a widely popular book series and games built upon worst case scenarios.  These were entertaining and humorous because the players or readers were not actually trapped in the scenarios and could examine them from afar.  Imaginary settings can be absent of the typical fear and stress induced adrenalin of true emergencies.  I wonder if these books or games have proven to be factual and helpful in real life?

Families have emergencies.  It is an event that is unexpected and critical.  The agenda has changed and all other plans are abandoned.  Life or health may be pending.  It is a frightful time.  Adults and children are affected, though differently.   It is troubling for both.  Adults understand the greater magnitude of problems.  Children’s innocence and naivety protects them but their immaturity does not equip them.  Adults should be mature enough to cope better with problems, but often they do not know what to do either.

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When an emergency arises take the necessary time to communicate with your children.  Explain as many details as possible which are age appropriate.  Don’t make any promises you may not be able to keep.   Don’t guarantee a grandparent will recover from their stroke or heart attack, if there is not plenty of evidence to support that claim.  Do give much assurance that the best possible care is being given to their loved one.  Be generous with hugs and words of love and comfort.  Pray together.  Cry together.

Develop your contingency plan and clearly explain what needs to be done when, where, and how.    Allow your child to ask questions and express concerns.  They may even have some worthy suggestions.  Tell them they may need to be exceptionally strong and brave and that you know they are able to do so.  Help them to focus on the needs and feelings of others and not just on their own.

I recall one Friday afternoon when I was about eight years old (I really hope I was that young) arriving home from school excited because I knew we were going to go to my grandparents’  home for the weekend.  I was informed that the trip was cancelled because one of my parents had to work overtime.   No one was sick or dying, but I was crushed.   My crying was so ridiculously exaggerated for the occasion that my mom grabbed her camera and took my photograph.  That made me mad  I wanted to hide my face so I pulled my dress up over my head but exposed my underwear.  My reaction to my disappointment was outrageous and just continued to get worse. My mom took the photo anyway!     I recovered.

Children are so childish.  That is nature/normal.  Don’t shield them from all emergencies and disasters.   Journey through it with them and help them handle the struggles that arise.

P.S. Remembering our own childhood nonsense helps us be more understanding towards our children.

Turbulent Times

I have to admit I was quite surprised as a parent to discover that not just girls, but also boys, journey through turbulent times as they enter adolescence.  I just didn’t see it coming.  Bam it hit.  As the parent I wasn’t prepared.   I know my son was not prepared either.

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Suddenly there was a big increase in late night discussions.  The discussions were often intense.  The crises were real, but they were not really as disastrous as they seemed to my almost teenager. As the parent I had to quickly learn how to navigate this new and often turbulent phase of child’s development.

Here are some of the things I learned to do and not do. These are not necessarily one’s natural response nor are they easy.

  1. Don’t laugh at them, even if you have to pinch yourself to prevent doing so
  2. Don’t’ belittle the situation
  3. Listen attentively
  4. Acknowledge their feelings and thoughts
  5. Help them see that the mountain-size problem is not quite as big as it seems
  6. Empathize, but keep it about them, not you
  7. Ask open questions which require more than a yes or no answer
  8. Help them understand that feelings can change quickly and are not always reliable
  9. Help them discover options and solutions
  10. Allow them to choose options and solutions

Our goal as parents is to raise independent, mature adults.  This is a process which requires trial and error.  As teens they need to gain more and more freedom.  With freedom comes more options and decision making.   They need to be allowed to make choices and even make mistakes as much can be learned from both.

Some teens need to talk more than others. Keep the dialogue open and be available so that molehill size problems can remain molehills and not become mountains.