Monday, January 11, 2010

The Family That Laughs Together

I don’t know about your family, but there are moments when my family gets in pretty high spirits. This kind of thing never happens by design. It sometimes starts with some kind of wisecrack. Or perhaps someone happens to find something said by another to be particularly humorous, even when no comedy was intended.

Such was the case a couple of evenings back. It started with a comment by one child that was taken up by another child with a twist. This chain continued until my oldest son said something that was very funny, but somewhat crude. His brother, thinking it to be one of the funniest things he had ever heard, asked, “Where did you hear that?” The oldest replied, “Dad said that to me once.”

I was standing on a stool in the kitchen looking for something in an upper cabinet. “I don’t remember that,” I retorted. “I remember,” he replied. Another child chimed in, “I remember it because I was there.” The oldest then went on to regale the family with a brief tale of how I had uttered this phrase while meting out correction — when trying to get him to settle down for family prayer, no less.

This brief retelling cannot hope to capture that dynamics of the situation. By the time this interchange was finished, the whole family was in stitches. I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t get breath. I got lightheaded enough that I had to step down from the stool for safety sake.

I’m sure that the situation wasn’t nearly that humorous at the time the correction occurred. But it’s surprising how much comedy a decade of time adds to such events. I also note that something that hadn’t been terribly memorable for me turned out to make quite an impression on my young children.

Once my son recounted the experience, I too remembered it. In fact, one of the reasons I was laughing so hard is that in my mind’s eye I saw my younger self in third person uttering those words with sternness. It was such an incongruous picture that it was impossible to take the intended correction with any degree of seriousness.

I’m grateful that our family can laugh together. It’s part of the glue that binds us together. I hope that we can occasionally still have moments like this two or three decades from now.

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