Monday, October 26, 2009

laugh till it hurts

This past week was fall break here so the kids were home all week. Which can be both fun and not. Luckily, we packed it full of having friends over and the kids actually did a really great job of playing nicely. Minimal whining. A lot of giggling. A LOT. Like, so much that it's infectious.

I was thinking about it a few days ago when Donovan and a couple friends were on the trampoline. I couldn't tell exactly what they were doing, but it involved one person rolling around and one person jumping and perhaps a collision here and there but mostly just a big pile of body-quaking, side-splitting, cheeks-hurting giggling. The kind that you can't even keep your eyes open through any more. I found myself frozen, just watching from the kitchen sink, through the family room window, and I found myself silently chuckling at the absurdity of it all. When was the last time I laughed like that?

As an adult, I do my fair share of laughing, but it's like ha-ha and I'm done. Maybe a few seconds. But not MINUTES. And not at just jumping around with a friend. As loud and obnoxious as Donovan can be, his sense of humor is one of his strongest suits. His ability to laugh at just about any situation. At a potentially frustrating moment, he'll tilt his head to the side (inevitably a tuft of hair poking out at some odd pillow-styled angle, that refuses to lay flat), eyes bright, grin mischievously, and talk through his teeth, in a way he knows will soothe my irritation.

Ainsleigh laughs. And she laughs hard. But I've noticed lately that it's mostly because of or with Donovan. Together, I swear they burn more calories laughing than they take in. And I'll admit it, sometimes I get annoyed. It just goes too far. It's NOT FUNNY any more (cue muffled giggles as they try, not very hard, to stop), I'll try to tell them. But there's a part, deeper than the logic that says "jelly beaner" is stupid, that is quietly pleased they have such a good relationship.

Lately, Donovan has tried to improve his speech by taking it upon himself to pronounce the letter R better. Except...I don't know how he got to this point, but he went from making a "wuh" sound to rolling his Rs. Like he's French. Like, not with the tip of your tongue - like a proper French kid, rolling his Rs at the back. It's the weirdest thing. When he talks about "running a race" or "cranberry grape juice" - it comes out...well, it's impossible to type out. Roll your Rs while you say that and I'm sure it will be close enough. When I first told Joel about it, his response was, 'Really? Weird.' and then he actually HEARD it and is now baffled by it all. Inevitably, we imitate him back. (This is not well received.)(This amuses us even more.) I told him he sounds like he's French and he shot back, "Das ok. I wike Frrrrench stuff." We'll see how long it holds.

And then a couple nights ago at dinner, Ainsleigh suddenly asked if I could curl my tongue (I can) because she couldn't. Turns out, Joel can't either (even after more than 10 years - the things we learn! actually, I may have known that, but I didn't remember so it's like learning all over again!). I said something about it being like a straw and Ainsleigh, pushing her pasta around on her plate with her fork, laughs and says, "Yeah, it's like your...proboscis or something?" (I begin giggling at her and she shakes her head, almost sheepishly) "Well, I don't remember what it's called. The feeding tube on a butterfly? Proboscis...I don't know." I had to clarify that I wasn't laughing at her inability to remember the word, but rather that she even KNEW the word to begin with. I would have called it a butterfly tongue.

And then there's Gemma, who is actually walking. Not more than crawling, but she's walking. Also, if you ask her how old she is, she'll hold up one finger. Also, she has hair. Maybe by the time she's 3 I'll get to do small pigtails or something.

In response to my previous post, my dad commented on the picture of Donovan "flying." I was going to paraphrase it, but I really should just quote:
In addition to the excellent subject, I've enjoyed the deeper meanings and
insights that come from looking at it for a bit.  The exuberance of youth,
oblivious to the challenges on the long and winding road that may lie ahead.
The uphill battle.  The mystery of what's around the bend.  Then I
personalize it and think of Donovan and how I never want him to lose that
joy, naivete, enthusiasm, innocence, and how I wish I could run ahead and
take out all the debris that he'll confront along the way, just as I felt
for each of my kids.  You know they're going to have disappointments, hurts
and heartbreaks, and you wish you could eliminate the sadness.  Then you
realize that even with the pain, there's so much joy and goodness out there,
and I feel like Donovan at the start of the trail again.
Do I need to reiterate how much I love my dad? He eloquently wrote what I've been thinking each time I watch Donovan speed down a hill or hear him laugh so hard he squeals he's going to wet his pants. It's what I think when I remember how awful and gross kids can be as the grow up. I want to bottle this time in their lives. The times that the inability to fly is their greatest disappointment and saying a word that rhymes with wiener is their greatest amusement. My dad has the wisdom that comes with watching your children grow up and (gasp!) still be happy. Still laugh. Still dream of doing the impossible. He's seen us through some pretty serious stuff and then rejoices in our successes.

I try to keep all of this in perspective and, when the opportunity presents itself, take that moment to freeze what I'm doing and listen to their laughter like I'm soaking it up through my pores. These are the quiet moments of parenthood, when I'm not really in the picture, but waiting in the wings, watching and listening and loving, that make this job priceless. And, occasionally, they draw me in until I'm laughing so hard I can't open my eyes and my sides hurt and I say a million thank yous that I'm a mom. Their mom.


Alice said...

Fall break? Are kids every in school anymore? Ok, just when I think Donovan can't get any funnier...he does.

Becca said...

Now she walks! Well I expect her to be racing then on Thanksgiving!

And for some reason Dad's quote and then the rest of the post made me tear up. I don't know why...but I think I forget the simplicities of life sometimes.

loewymartin said...

Becca said it - when I read your Dad's comments I teared up and continued until the end.

It's posts like these that make me slow down and absorb the little moments. And it's comments like your Dad's that remind me in the future I'll be able to put it all in perspective and appreciate the little moments.