Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

They say laughter is the best medicine.  I don't know if that is true, but I will agree that it can lighten a somber mood and take one's mind off of their sadness for a little while.

My children often ask what they were like when they were younger (younger than their current ages of 19, 11 and 9).  Sometimes they want to know about their birth, sometimes about their toddler days and other times they just want to hear funny stories about times that I remember perhaps a little better than they do of their earlier days of life.

Yesterday was one of those such days, and I shared funny stories with them, and now I will share them with you, hoping to bring a smile to your face, make you chuckle a little bit and just to lighten a mood.

Jake was my funny guy, and actually still is.  I recalled when he was about 4 and we lived in the heart of the city of Worcester. We went to the grocery store one day, where we were clearly the minority.  As we were in the check-out line, and I was putting the items on the conveyor belt, I happened to notice a very tall African American man behind us.  And then I heard it...my son's little voice asking "Do you play basketball?"  The man chuckled and answered, "No, but I get asked that alot because I am so tall."  And then I heard it again...my son's innocent and honest comment, "I didn't ask you cuz you're tall, I asked you cuz you're Black."  Fortunately the man found that to be very funny.  I did not.

As happens sometimes when you are a single parent, you end up bringing your child everywhere you go.  One day, Jake had a snow day and needed to go to work with me.  On the way home, as we were walking to the car, we passed a Dunkin' Donuts.  I had promised him a doughnut after work if he was good, and so we stopped.  He got 2 chocolate doughnuts and ripped into one of them as soon as we left the downtown store.  As we walked up Pleasant Street, I could see ahead that there was a man rifling through the trash can.  Jake noticed him too and asked what he was doing.  In my most politically correct manner, I told him that unfortunately there are some in this world who don't have homes or food and that this man was probably one of those people who was looking for something to eat.  That answer sufficed, and we kept walking up the hill.  Jake decided he only wanted the one doughnut and threw the other into a nearby trash can.  As we approached the man up ahead, I grabbed my child's hand and then I heard it...my son's little voice saying "If you are still hungry, there's a chocolate doughnut in the trash can down there." The man pulled his head up and looked at us, no expression on his face.  I grabbed the little hand a little tighter and tried to get him to walk faster when again I heard it...my son's little voice saying "My mom said you are homeless and have no food so I just wanted to tell you about the doughnut."  So I picked him up and walked a little faster.

And I saved the best for last...it was an unofficial company habit for some of us to go to Cactus Pete's after work on Fridays.  One Friday, Jake joined us.  We sat at a table with a co-worker Julie and a supervisor, who I will call Mr. L.  This particular Friday it was quite busy, and Jake needed to use the bathroom.  The women's room line was long, and no one was letting us cut, even though I said it was for my son.  So I allowed him his first visit to the men's room.  I told him not to talk to anyone and to do what he had to do and then come right out.  Some time went by, probably not much time, but it seemed like a long time to me, and men came out of the bathroom, but not my little man.  Finally, out he comes, and we go back to the table. The first thing he said was, "Did you see that man with the blue shirt on?"  My heart jumped into my chest as I quickly answered, "Yes, why?"  That's when I heard it...my son's little voice saying, "He had a huge private."  Ahhh, yes, apparently the first visit to the men's room for a little boy who lived only with his mother had been quite an eye-opener. Fortunately Julie and Mr. L. found that to be funny.  I was a bit embarrassed.

Nathan is my sensitive, caring and loving 11 year old, and although he is that way now, he was a little different when a toddler.  He went through an angry coffee-table clearing, chair-throwing, biting stage as a toddler.  He also went through a swearing stage, where anytime he got upset about something he would swear, almost as if he had Turrett's.  There was one such day when we were in WalMart, and he bent to pick something up. As he stood, he bumped his head on the conveyor belt. I knew enough not to mention it and to just let it slide, but the cashier did not and probably thought I was the worst mother ever to not be addressing his hurt.  Her mistake...As she said with deep concern "Honey, are you okay?", I cringed and for good reason, as the response was "Shut your mouth b*tch."  Yes, he got picked up and carried out of the store immediately.  We didn't go back there for a while.

But now Nathan is wonderful, and there is no sign of that angry little boy.  He cares about other's feelings, and is a good big brother to his sister.  A few years ago, I did my annual assessment of myself and decided it was time for a diet. As I announced that to Nathan and Allie, Nathan started crying. When I asked why, he said that he didn't want me to change.  I thought that was so sweet, until he finished his sweet comment with "We like you fat."  Another time, I was downstairs in the morning getting ready for our day and waiting for the kids to wake up, when Nathan came racing downstairs yelling my name.  I thought something was wrong and turned to ask "What's the matter?"  He said, "Oh never mind" and turned back around.  I asked what that was all about and was told, "I had a dream you were skinny.  But no, still fat." as he ran back up the stairs.  Keep running, buddy, keep running :)

Allie is funny and sarcastic, but she is so cute that her sarcastic comments make me laugh, most times.  When I ask her to do too many things at once, I get answers like "I still haven't done the 1st thing.  I'm not a octopus, you know."  Sometimes I catch her rolling her eyes when she doesn't get the answer she wanted.  Sometimes when she wants to fill her (and my) entire weekend with sleepover after sleepover, and driving her or her friends all over the place, I remind her how I was only allowed one sleepover a month when I was growing up.  Once she answered, "Well, maybe if I had 6 sisters like you, I would have people to play with at home."  Point made, Allie, who's sleeping over this weekend?  Ya, she's good.

So I don't know if laughter is the best medicine, but just writing this made me smile.  Hope it lightens or brightens your day as well.


  1. I remember those stories. I wonder if Mom has any stories about us when we were little.

  2. I also forgot to include in the Cactus Pete's story, that both co-worker Julie and supervisor Mr. L. left our table shortly after Jake's announcement: Mr. L. left out of embarrassment, and Julie left to find the man in the blue shirt LOL

  3. No, David, you were not as outspoken as Jake!! I do recall when I was babysitting Caelyn, however, that she was very outgoing. Children are not to talk to strangers, but at the grocery store, she would actually introduce herself: "Hi, I'm Caelyn, and this is my friend Julie." That alone was a bit embarrassing!!

  4. im sure mom has more stories about me stealing things and starting fights in walgreens parking lots

  5. I have a story about Mom when we were at Taco Bell on Lincoln St. and she thought our cashier's name was Jesus (as in God's Son) and that Debbi would like him. Or when I was delivering Jake, and my doctor was Dr. Ennis, but Mom kept pronouncing his name as if the "E" was a long "A". Nothing like trying to breathe in labor when she keeps saying his name wrong and you're cracking up.