Thursday, March 1, 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

A few weeks ago, my day went like this:  Take K to school at 8:35 a.m.; come back home, eat breakfast; while eating breakfast, I realize that K forgot her FM system (very important for her to have in class) and it is in the backseat of my car;  drive back to K's school to drop off system and drive back home.  That made two trips to K's school in the space of an hour.  I had two things on my agenda that day:  Make an appointment to get my hair done and make an appointment for S to see the orthopedic surgeon for a check up.  I know, already you are wondering how I got off so easy to only have 2 things on my "to do" list.  I didn't.  I've just learned to set my expectations really low, since things never seem to go as expected.  This is the life of a mom, not just a mom to an extra-special kid.  Call the salon; can't get an appointment until 4 weeks past the time I want it.  Hmmmm.... two things that have not gone smoothly.  I should see the warning in that.  Call the orthopedic surgeon's office, expecting that it will be a month or so before we get an appointment.  I was wrong!  They can see her that very day!  This requires some juggling, so I email K's teacher to let her know I will have to pick her up early; I call S's school to let them know I will have to pick her up early.  I call the piano teacher to cancel K's lesson that day.  I start packing the doctor's office survival kit because last time we had an appointment like that at the orthopedic surgeon's office, he was running 2 hours behind.  Okay, all bases covered!  Not more than 45 minutes later, my phone rings.  It is S, calling from school, not feeling well.  Could I please come pick her up?  Of course I can.  Dammit.  Now I've got a sick kid AND I have to go back and rearrange our entire schedule AGAIN!  I email K's teacher...again.  I call the piano teacher...again.  I call the orthopedic surgeon...again. I felt like a boomerang - right back where I started.  I could have been frustrated, but instead, I saw this as funny.  Seriously, could it have been any crazier? Once upon a time, before I had an extra-special kid - heck, before I had any kids at all - a day like that would have turned me upside down and completely derailed me.  Now?  I've learned that sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.  I'm learning to see humor in the mundane things we see every day.

S is at that age where she is just plain silly a lot of the time.  She will find something that amuses her and before she knows it, she's rolling on the floor in full belly-laughing mode.  We were recently listening to an old CD of Disney music.  It has a whole bunch of songs on it from movies S & K have never heard of or seen.  There is one song, "The Spectrum Song," from Walt Disney's Wide World of Color (1961).  Ludwig Von Drake (voiced by Paul Frees) sings about the colors of the spectrum and toward the end, is befuddled over all the colors - including black, and green, and white and stripes and plaid.  For some reason, this absolutely sends S into fits of giggles.  I know it's silly, but that silly?  Not sure.  However, her laughter is, indeed, contagious.  It is so funny to watch her laughing over something silly that it gets the rest of us going as well.

K has always been able to make us laugh.  It is often over things that she says or does that she never intended to be funny, but because it came from her, it made us laugh.  She will come up with things that seem so out of character for her.  The other day, she came marching into the office, cup in hand, and declared, "I just went to get myself a refreshment."  Refreshment?  Who says "refreshment?"  What 10 year old anywhere says, "refreshment," let alone a speech/language impaired kid?  When the song from The Muppet Movie won an Oscar, K enthusiastically hollered, "Oh yeah!  Now that's what I'm talkin' about!  Woo Hoo!"  Seriously, where does she get this stuff?

It's a simple gift: laughter.  I find that as an adult, the opportunities for that uninhibited laughter don't come along as often.  Maybe I've just lost my some of my sense of humor.  Maybe adults have so many responsibilities to manage that we forget to see the humor in the mundane parts of life.  Having an extra-special kid helps with that.  I mean, at some point, you have to look around all the things you are juggling, all the emotional burdens you are carrying and just realize that you can't let it get to you.  Watching the things that crack my girls up reminds me that sometimes, just because we are adults, we take life far too seriously.  When was the last time my girlfriends and I managed to just be together long enough to find something ridiculously funny that makes us dissolve into tear-inducing laughter?

One of my goals from now on is to make a conscious effort to share that laughter with my girls every day.  When the challenges in life get to me, as they did after our IEP meeting last week, I will remember that these two marvelous girls find the fun in their days in ways that I have forgotten.  May we all be blessed with more belly laughs in our days!

P.S.  In the time since I began this post a couple of days ago until now, when I am about ready to publish this post, I have found that this topic is more relevant than I thought.  First, while K was in speech therapy on Wednesday, I was chatting with another parent (who is actually the grandma to another child at speech) and she made a comment about how she hasn't really laughed - really, really laughed - since her husband died 8 years ago.  She finds things funny, but nothing that gets her really going.  It seems that maybe more people than me are losing that carefree experience of the world where we find the true laughter in life around us.

The second thing that happened was that I attended my book club meeting.  We were discussing a book set during WWII; main characters were Jewish.  Although the subject matter in the book wasn't particularly funny, our discussion was spirited and punctuated by moments of spontaneous laughter.  So, to my book club girls, I thank you for giving me an evening of much needed, grown-up girl time and the gift of some really good humor that kept me smiling the rest of the night.  You girls are some super fun people and I'm glad to know you!

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