Jonathan Marsh. 3rd year juniors (year 5 in new money). Black paint. That’s when I knew.
I will never forget the way, by excessive mixing and a bit of deliberate pouring, Jonathan Marsh (cretin) decided to cover me from head to toe in thick oozy black paint. And I’ll never forget my mum’s reaction when she opened the door to me, still largely covered in said thick oozy black paint after school. First reaction of my darling, supportive mother? Laughter. That’s right. Before she even let me over the threshold of the front door, she took one look at me and laughed. Right there. In my face. Straight at me. And with no apology. She did of course eventually let me in, cleaned me up and made me feel better. But that’s when I knew: children are clearly a source of great amusement for their parents.
I must have lodged this somewhere in my consciousness because years later, as a parent myself, I often think of my mum’s gut reaction to her dear daughter in a sorry predicament, whilst I react in the same way to my own children in their different but equally sorry predicaments. I can’t help it; I find my children funny. When boy number 1 fell head first into a toy box at toddler group whilst overreaching…. I laughed first and rescued later. Much to the horror of on looking helicopters*. (*As in “helicopter parents”. Not *actual* helicopters. Obvs.) When he was older and taking part in school street dance performances I could never get a decent photo because my hands were always shaking too much from the stifled laughter brewing within. Seriously. In a world of his own. But having a great time anyway so bringing the joy all the same. When boy number 2 told me very seriously that “it really really hurts if you get your willy on the radiator” I laughed first and enquired about his, er, personal health second. And when boy number 3 at aged 4 started heckling the Pastor of a church we were visiting I struggled to stop laughing at his comedy timing long enough to tell him off. Seriously, great comic value that one. Not to say I often stand and laugh in their faces. Or in fact all of the time. But these days I have definitely learnt to laugh just enough to balance out the tantrums and boredom and boundary testing and all the stuff that’s difficult about parenting.
During the nano second it took my mum to choose her reaction to me on the doorstep covered in paint, I’m assuming she applied the “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” logic. And I honestly think that is a great antidote to some of parenting’s more challenging moments. Like when, unbeknown to me, boy number 2 aged about 3 had got hold of the sunblock whilst watching some Doctor Who and was using it to “Ex-term-in-ate” the Daleks on the TV… and all over the carpet and sofa and curtains as he went. I walked in, took one look and had a choice: a meltdown, or… something else. I chose the something else. I chose to give a little laugh, acknowledge my mistake at leaving the sunblock in reach, admired his ability to engage in role play whilst exploring a range of materials available and set to clearing up – whilst giggling to myself about the boy’s somewhat genuis misdeamnours.
There were a few contenders for my final “parenting word”- Rest, Community, Honesty…. just some of them. But I do think the most valuable one to include in my top 3 is “Laughter”. Sometimes, when I’m standing in the middle of mess and chaos and noise and what feels like a take overbid from a herd of elephants on acid… if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry. And honestly? The crying might never stop!
Quite clearly I am not alone in this pursuit of humour in the parenting arena. The rise of blogs like hurrahforgin.com theunmumsymum.blogspot.co.uk and peterandjaneblog.blogspot.co.uk are testament to the fact, I think, that if nothing else, we just need a ruddy good laugh about it all. Raising children is a serious business, but it needn’t be an unbearable burden. That burden can be lifted, just a little I reckon, by remembering to laugh. Obviously this needs to be balanced with seriousness when appropriate. To my shame, there have been a few times I’ve had to leave a room because I’m finding a boys’ misadventures quite amusing actually when a genuine telling off is more appropriate. We kind of tag team the response when I can stifle my laughter no more. And Steven is MUCH better at visibly frowning on poor behaviour at times. Unless it’s to do with bodily functions and then the toilet humour gets the better of him and I have to step in again. Team work in parenting – another great tip!
You know, bottom line, with all of my words, is an acknowledgement that basically we’re all just trying to find something that works, in a way that won’t damage our children – or us for that matter – for life. Steven and I are still making it up as we go along really. But I also like to think we have learnt a bit by now as well. As I’m sure all parents do along the way.
So to conclude this mini-series (which possibly breaks some kind of record for taking the longest time to complete!) my three words, the three main notes in my parenting mood music are (see introduction to my parenting mood music here):
Forgiveness (more on that here)
Patience (more on that here)
I’d love to know what yours are. Perhaps together there is a symphony to find. A funny one I hope. Possibly involving kazoos. Now *they’re* hilarious….
See you one the front line
PS. Just a side note on laughing post babies: Pelvic floors. And avoid trampolines. #justsaying
PPS. I literally have *no* idea why the font has changed in this bit. But life is way too short to try and figure it out before publishing. So there we are. #technophobe #noviceblogger