Sunday, February 13, 2011

Department of Redundancy Department

I love my family.

Obviously, I also like stating the obvious.

It's a weird mood tonight. After weeks of stress and deadlines and worries and viral ick run amok, we've had probably the first truly relaxing day in a month... and I'm a little giddy.

Charlie just trimmed his beard and mustache and it reminded me of a snippet of dream from the other night... so I ran to tell Daniel (the subject of said dream) about it. He was, as usual, attached to a gaming remote with John working in clay beside him. Rachel came into the room as I launched into "Hey, Daniel. I had a dream about you. You'd grown a mustache and (really ratty) goatee thingy and I was trying to talk you into letting me help you trim the mustache."
"Why"
"Because half of it was hanging over your lip and the other half was too short. I think I said you needed to not close your eyes when grooming your facial hair."

This turned into one of those moments where everyone in the room is talking over everyone else and laughing loud enough to shake the windows. While Daniel took a little good natured teasing (refusing help from anyone is total Daniel MO) I realized how very Mrs. Weasleyish I sounded in my own dream which then reminded me of past conversations with friends in which I have been favorably compared to one of my favorite fictional moms ever.

But the laughing... that's my favorite part. It's one of the reasons the kids still, after all these years, love to reminisce about when they were little. It's why John's favorite family tale occurred only days into my marriage to Charlie. It's why, while we have more than our fair share of hugs and "I love you's", I can also walk through a room, randomly call someone 'weirdo' or 'freak', get 'old-fart' or an equivalent in return and we all know it means the same. We're all not only drawn to laughter but seek to create it daily in our lives.

Charlie and Daniel's voices sound more and more the same each day. All of us females have almost identical speaking voices... John laments the fact that, for now, he still sounds like his sisters... but that will change within a year and people will confuse him for his dad and brother on the phone the same way they confuse all us women. But each of us laugh differently. They all look so different from each other and their laughs are as distinct and individual as they are. Each one is a joy to hear... even if it is 2 hours past lights out and I'm dying to get some sleep.

I love the sound of their laughter. I can hear it over any other sound in a crowded room... though that may have more to do with the fact that we're a loud bunch than it does my being attuned to their voices.

I used to be self-conscious and apologetic about my rambunctious and noisy family. It's such a blessing to be over that. I refuse to apologize for my laughing family. I'll accept the occasional correction from older folks who believe we, as Christians, should be more serious about our lives and our faith but will not change. Laughter is a gift. Even Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, knew the healing power of laughter.

Rachel and I were talking earlier tonight... she mentioned that Dora will probably toddle around with her little stuffed giraffe clutched in one hand until she's almost ready for school... much like her mom carried Mr. Bear. Rachel brought up her 'fi-fi', a t-shirt of Charlie's she swiped from our bedroom floor when she was about 15 months old. I remembered when the collar of the t-shirt separated from the rest of the shirt and she started wearing it around her neck like a cape. She said fi-fi was anything she wanted him to be... and yes, fi-fi was a him. Like Ford Prefect's towel, it was her constant and required accessory.

Like most 'tomembry' conversations, this one wandered all over her toddler years until Charlie popped in with a reference to Daniel's toddlerhood speech quirks. He made a comment about how uptight I used to be and I laughed.

"Okay Dear. You weren't the one who had to deal with Krys telling anyone who would listen about how Mommy fed her Baby-Sister-Becca-Rae with her boob, just like a bottle. You didn't have to listen to Becca telling everyone in God's green earth about how Mommy ran over her finger with a shopping cart (middle finger, sans nail extended, "Mommy. chopping carp rum ober") You didn't have to listen to Rachel screaming in the middle of Wal-mart "Don't hit me Mommy!" after getting her hand popped for dragging everything in reach into the cart. You didn't have to navigate a Christmas crowded K-mart with 4 kids while your 2 year-old son threw a tantrum demanding a... truck. (Only he couldn't say 'truck') You didn't have to deal with the stares while he screamed "F*ck! F*ck! I wanna f*ck!"

Of course, both Rachel and Charlie laughed through this little rant... and I realized that particular day was the turning point for me. I stopped being embarrassed by my kids being kids and learned to laugh in the moment, rather than later when no one was staring at me.

One of Daniel's other finer speech moments was the night we went out to a seafood restaurant and ordered crab legs. Charlie said he was afraid the kids would freak that we were eating Sebastian from "The Little Mermaid". That never came up. What did happen was Daniel climbed his not quite 3 year-old body onto the table to announce to the entire establishment that "I like crap! I like to eat CRAP!"... That was also the night Rachel realized that a mid-pout head slam isn't guaranteed to hit padding (wooden booths) and spent a good portion of the meal with an ice-pack on her head. It was also the night I decided anyone giving me the evil eye for discreetly nursing my newborn son in public would get a wide-eyed, open-mouthed stare, from our entire family, right back. Krys and Becca joyfully discussed the deaths of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber over their dinner salads.... which I think was the trigger for Rachel's head-banging... and only intensified Charlie's fears over the eventual crab-Little Mermaid connection. I had a sudden swell of respect and pride for my parents who made a point of taking all 9 of us out to eat nearly every month... and the night became one of our favorite adventures together.

13 years later and it still makes us laugh. We don't remember that Charlie and I experienced a level of exhaustion that night that rivals this past week's move. What we remember are the high points... and all the laughter that came with them.

I love my family.

I love telling stories about my family.

I love the laughter.

But you probably already knew that.