“Laughter will succeed where threats punishments and pious lectures will not.
Peter Tremayne Badgers Moon
My husband and I had six children in eight years. Some of them came two by two. It was chaos. People tend to shake their heads when they hear this and ask how we lived through it and maintained our sanity. The more important question at the time for me however, was how to get through each day and keep smiling.
Surely, folks ask, there is a skill to remain positive in the midst of chaos – some trick to learn – an art to master. For me, the skill was one the kids provided themselves; one we sometimes forget when we get to be an adult and are faced with the stress of all the crying, storming, laughing little faces that surround us so tightly.
The answer to the skill-testing question? Just pick out the funny parts. Kids always see the funny parts, and there are usually funny parts in most situations that deal with kids.
Living surrounded in chaos can make one become philosophical – or crazy (I found my life to be a combination of both). My philosophy (developed in rare quiet moments) (like midnight) went something like this. Adults view time as a horizontal dimension: past, present and future. We are planners. We work to shape the future by molding the moment to fit it. Surprises that mess up the planning are not always well received. Children on the other hand seem to view time as a vertical dimension. The present moment is their domain and they delight in the surprises it offers.
There are books that encourage us to just give up the expectations and life will become one surprising unfolding after another. Take for example finding your daughter has received a new hair cut from one of her siblings. Now there was a surprise, and not one we expected to unfold the day before photo day at school.
We’ll never know the exact nature of the surprises that will arrive each day, but the nature of our response to the surprises is ours and ours alone. Very often we have a choice: we can choose anger or laughter, and I found that laughter felt so much better than tears.
When things got crazy, and when I wasn’t overcome with the chaos, fatigue, and the resulting grumpiness, I tried to rise above some surprising situations and see them from a different perspective. When I did that, I liked to think I was watching with the angels. Maybe, as the Scottish saying goes, angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.
“Oh! Ha ha” thought I from my airy seat in the clouds, “Did the kids just put all the chickens and their baby sister on the trampoline and invite the neighbors to join in with the bouncing?”
You may be surprised to know that I did not yell and threaten the children with dire consequences for that chicken caper. No no. I was too shocked to speak, which gave me just the moment needed to pause and choose. It was, after all, too late to save the feathers from a fast-balding flock and my own naughty flock was beside themselves with glee. I chose laughter.
– as published in the Camana Bay Times, November 2019<img