You know those moments when everything seems to be going a little (ok a lot) pear shaped, and you find yourself doing this kinda crazy half laughing thing because you think if I don’t laugh right now I’m going to fall into a heap and never get up again? Yeah? I have those moments quite a lot…
And I was thinking about this the other day and realised that humour can be a really important coping mechanism. I think the key is being able to look at yourself from an external perspective (sometimes I imagine that I’m in some sort of dodgy sitcom on TV), and take some of the personal emotion out of what is happening. Because most of the time, what is happening is not actually that bad and would make a pretty funny scene in a movie…
OK..so here’s an example that got me thinking about this. It was morning time in our household and I was super excited that the husband was home to help because he is normally long gone before morning chaos hits. I’m running around like a nut bag, trying to get myself ready for work whilst simultaneously making kids lunches, packing bags, getting kids dressed and all the typical morning stuff…you know the drill. Anyway, at some point my husband yells “shall I get the kids breakfast?” and I say “yes” and I think ….great…he’s getting the breakfast sorted. So I jump in the shower , finally get myself ready in record speed, gather up the children and just as we are about to walk out the door my son says “but I haven’t eaten anything?” . What? how has this happened? I look at my husband, who looks accusingly at me. “Err…you said you were getting them breakfast?”, I say. “No??” he says “I asked you, if you had already given them breakfast and you said “Yes”. Ahhh… right.
Lets face it, it was actually a pretty funny moment. Us standing in the doorway, looking at each other as it dawns on us that we both thought the other person had done it and no one has given the kids anything to eat. But did we laugh? No…no…we did not.
I got cross. I believe “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” was yelled at some great decible. I stomped into the house and started opening and slamming cupboards trying to find a suitable food item that could be consumed whilst walking to school. I stared my husband down with my best evil glare, hoping he might feel the burning rath of my fury and remember never to cross my path in such a failing way in the future. I got cross with the kids for not reminding us that they hadn’t eaten…I mean, seriously…who forgets to eat? it’s not like they don’t do it EVERY morning. Take some responsibility people!!! Needless to say, the kids got upset and everyone left for the day in a bad mood.
Wouldn’t it have been better, to take a big sigh and then, maybe, laugh about our misunderstanding? Quickly run into the house and make a joke about the lame breakfast they were having and everyone would have gone on with their day in a much better mood?? Oh…if only….
Luckily…later in the week, I had another chance to handle things a bit better… we were on an adventure to go chop down a real Christmas tree. It seemed like the perfect family outing, and everyone is a little bit excited. We jump out of the car to choose our tree, and things start going wrong. The kids split up and decide that different trees are perfect. I wander around aimlessly trying to find the tree with the perfect shape. And my husband just wants to chop down the one nearest to the car and get the job done. Finally we choose a tree (my selection of course), and my daughter cries all the way home because we didn’t choose her one, while my son yells at her to just shut up.
We get home to put the tree up and my son immediately says “can I just go play computer games?” before we have even managed to push the tree through the door. As we battle to get the tree into the stand, it becomes clear that the tree WE have chosen actually has an incredibly wonky trunk which means every time we stand it up, it falls over. My husband starts cursing, and we start debating about whose fault it was that the tree was falling over (clearly his because he cut it down, although he thought it was mine because I chose it …I guess that bit is true…and because I was “holding it funny” when we put the stand in..sooo wasn’t). We decide to cut down the trunk some more, so next thing we know, the tree is shoved half in and half out of the house through the balcony door, so my husband can saw off the end of the end of the trunk (but he’s having a bit of trouble). He is getting REALLY cranky. There is swearing involved. I’m inside the house trying to hold the tree still. Pine needles are going all over the floor (what the hell is he doing???) and I can feel my blood starting to boil….this was not turning out to be the lovely family day I had imagined.
Then I stop. I take a look around. I see my daughter standing there with three of our ugliest baubles patiently waiting for the tree to be upright so she can put them on, my son completely oblivious to what is going on staring at a screen in the corner, my husband trapped in the corner of the balcony having a battle royale with a Christmas Tree, me with pine needles stuck up my nose and a rash starting to appear on my arms from holding the tree…and I think…you’ve got to laugh. This is pretty funny. I mean, seriously, this could totally be a scene from a Chevy Chase movie ( those movies were a family staple in our household). My blood pressure drops and I manage to stay calm enough to keep my husband from jumping off the balcony in frustration. Finally the end of the trunk was cut and we somehow manage to get the tree standing with a the help of a brick on one side of the stand. My husband went and had a strong coffee, while my daughter and I put on the Christmas music and decorated the tree. And when we were finished, there were smiles all around. Our first Real family Christmas tree. We DID IT!
It’s easy to take life way too seriously sometimes. And it is REALLY hard to catch yourself in the moment and stop the rage from appearing. But, sometimes…well, really…what else can you do but laugh?
Hope you are having lots of holiday fun at your houses too and just remember ‘life is better when you are laughing”.