All Moms know that there are times when your children make you smile warmly and there are times when they make you giggle with joy. But there are times when they do funny things and you are not allowed to laugh. It's in the Mommy Rule Book. It's easy to spot some of
these "unlaughable moments" like when your pre-adolesent falls down over his own feet. Or your large dog knocks your toddler over. The rule book clearly states that Moms are not supposed to laugh at their children's pain. We are supposed to give comfort and sympathy, not share in their humiliation. That's the easy part. But then, there are the harder moments...
These moments seem to lurk on the edge of our total frustration. In other words, they occur when we should be at our angriest. I believe that we have a built in release valve that kicks in once our children have sent us over the edge. My theory is that our children have the capability to make us so angry we will literally explode. So God caused Moms to have a laughter reaction that releases some of the pent up negative energy that leads to physical explosion. OK, it's just a theory. There is no other way to account for the need to laugh when I should be at my "Mom's on the War Path" best.
Recently, my two youngest children were told to clean their room and put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. They are 3 and 4 years old. This should not have been too difficult for them. Pull a comforter over their wrinkled sheets and put dirty PJs into a football shaped clothes hamper. I was pretty sure they could do the job, but was expecting the worst. Or so I thought.... My idea of the worst was blankets on the floor and PJs under the pillows. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a room that had no clothes on the floor and blankets pulled up on the beds. Then imagine my confusion when I realized there were no pillows on the beds, no pillows under the beds, no pillows in the closet, in fact no pillows at all. I walked over to the clothes hamper to view their dirty jammies neatly piled into the football. Again, I was surprised to see no pillows in the hamper, and no jammies either. In fact, the football hamper was completely empty. I gave my two little men a very stern look and said, "Where are the dirty clothes boys?" Chase gave me a sweet little smile and said, "I show you Mommy." Then he took my hand and led me to the front yard. There, piled in the bushes under their bedroom window, lay the missing pillows, dirty clothes, odd assortment of toys and stuffed animals and books. Oh, did I mention it was raining at the time?
Silly me! I was wondering if they had the capability to make their beds and put their clothes away. I should have known that removing a screen from the window, tossing every loose article out the 2nd story window, replacing the screen and making their bed was well within their ability. I should have know this since they had already shown a remarkable ability to sneak into their big brother's rooms and come out with a large assortment of lego men stuffed neatly into their pockets, all without seemingly being anywhere near their brother's bedrooms.
As I tried to come up with a punishment that seemed fitting for this latest behavior problem, I started to think about what would happen if they had leaned too far out the window and fallen. That was all it took! Anger and fear seemed to rise from the base of my feet and threatened to completely engulf me. That's when I developed my exploding theory. I have no other excuse for what happened next. I was standing in the rain, in the middle of my front yard, with my two youngest sons at my side and when I should have been developing my "Mommy Look" and devising terrible consequences for them, I felt the overwhelming need to laugh. I don't have to explain this feeling to any Mom; we have all been there at least once. I ran into the house with a shouted "Get this stuff back in the house this minute young man!" and hid in my room until I was once again under control. Luckily, my abrupt departure was interpreted as overwhelming anger by my sons and they immediately started to correct the situation. Luckily, my husband arrived home just about the time they finished bringing wet clothes, toys, pillows and books into the house. It seems he did not possess the anger release laughter valve. He was not only able, but willing to give them the discipline they needed and do it all without laughter.
I'll have to find his secret for non-laughter soon, since I just told my 3 year old to "get your tail up to your room this minute" and he turned to me and said very sweetly "Mommy, only dinosaurs have tails."