Month: February 2014

Laughter

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Laughter

By Lisa Baniewicz

Imagine you’re driving when your baby’s diaper leaks through to their car seat, you don’t have a change of clothes for him, and he’s wearing the last diaper. Or, you’re teenager calls you in a panic to say she’s forgotten her cheerleading shoes and needs them A.S.A.P. because the bus is leaving. You run out the door to save the day, only to get to the school and have her throw herself across the hood of your car in a dramatic fashion. She looks at you with a crooked smile and says, “I also forgot my pom-poms.” The second scenario literally just happened. Thankfully we’re well past the diaper stage in my house and I don’t have to worry about that happening again.

As my daughter waited for a response after an academy award winning performance, I looked at her and laughed. Her stress abated and she laughed too. Situation diffused and in the scheme of life, not a huge deal either.

In situations like this that I’ve experienced, and many, many more to count, I know one thing is for sure. The way I handle stressful situations really impacts my day from that moment on and anyone else involved. When I choose the lighter approach of laughter (when appropriate) as a coping mechanism, the mood immediately changes for the better. It no longer feels like the end of the world.

Years ago I was introduced to a woman who was hosting a party I attended. She had a great laugh and I heard it all night long. At the end of the night, I told her I loved her laugh. Her response surprised me. She said, “Oh, it’s one of my favorite things to do.” That’s the first time I’d ever heard of laughing in that way. It was like she was telling me she loved to garden or cook.

As I’m getting older and raising five children, which at times is a roller coaster of emotions, I want to be more like this woman. Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Certainly we have a choice. Wayne Dyer, international author and speaker of self-development, says, “It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” Certainly every day isn’t perfect and I have yet to meet a perfect parent, but the woman I met chooses to laugh as much as she can when the situation arises.

My family has grown up with the ability to laugh at ourselves. During a recent family iChat with my 86-year-old grandma, she was reminiscing about her lack of coordination and all the foolish things that happened over the years. She was in stitches. Then, it hit me that she’s the source of my five-year-old’s ability to trip on air. This made her laugh even more.

My two youngest daughters laugh a lot and I love it. While at an eye doctor’s appointment last week, the doctor said it sounded like chipmunks were in the exam room. My girls had the giggles and it was contagious. My father is very funny and probably has the most contagious laugh of anyone I know. According to my son, grandpa’s “the Michael Jordan of funny.” (To clarify, it doesn’t mean I was never grounded.)

In the next stressful situation you encounter, I hope you’re able to laugh. As Bob Newhart said, “Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.”

Compliments of The Atchison Globe.

Last of the Firsts

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I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced one of my children getting so excited over losing her first tooth. My five-year-old just experienced this. She ran around the house with muffled shouts of glee because a Kleenex was stuffed in her mouth to sop up the blood. At bedtime, she insisted she had to sleep on the floor that night since she sleeps on the top of a bunk bed. Her concern being the tooth fairy wasn’t tall enough to reach under her pillow.

Almost immediately following this big event, she connected via FaceTime with distant relatives. She wanted to share her excitement and show off the gaping hole in her mouth. In actuality, the tooth was barely larger than a couple grains of rice stuck together. She practically had to smoosh her face against the computer’s camera so they could see the tiny gap it left. Her older cousins, too far way to suffer any consequences, told her she should expect a twenty-dollar bill under her pillow the next morning. They think they’re hilarious. I quickly abolished that idea and told the cousins to expect repercussion from that remark. Some day they will have children of their own and the price will have tripled by then. At least that’s what I’ll be more than happy to tell them.

Her eight-year-old sister, the practical one, gave her the break down of amounts of money to expect. She went through a litany of what she discovered under her pillow the following mornings. This was helpful information for both her younger sister, and the tooth fairy that tends to be forgetful and has to leave sticky notes in code to remember her last duty of the night. Sadly, my daughter brought up the fact the tooth fairy completely failed on her latest missing tooth, recalling not a penny was left. She gave the impression after her sister lost seven teeth it was all down hill from there. For some reason, the tooth fairy had forgotten to leave money after tooth number eight fell out, but remembered to take the tooth. This was news to the tooth fairy. I, for one, think some day a tooth will appear amidst every layer of blankets, stuffed animals, and books that litter her bed no matter how many times the bedding is changed. Or, there is the possibility it was sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. How could the tooth fairy remember one and not the other?

On the way to school the following morning, I recalled a quote from Erma Bombeck. She said, “Never have more children than you have car windows.” I disagree. In my family’s case, that’s dangerous. On the way to school, my daughter rolled down her window, stuck her head out in the 19 degree weather, and yelled, “Hey world, I lost my tooth last night!” We happened to be passing a college student right then who seemed somewhat startled by my daughter’s early morning, chipper shouts of joy. After no response from the student, I told my daughter they probably didn’t hear her, although I’m sure her voice rang out at least two streets over.

Last night, a repeat performance, she lost her second tooth! I’m beginning to wonder if they’re not falling out due to age, but to cavities or lack of care instead. Let’s hope not. As she celebrated such an exciting milestone in her life, I was sad. Since she’s my youngest child, it hit me that this was it. No more firsts in this category. No more excitement about the tooth fairy’s first visit to hide money. In some cases, hide it too well.

(Compliments of the Atchison Globe)