My 2 year old daughter loves ‘Monkey Rides’ – climbing on my back and holding on like a monkey while I rush up the stairs. I never understood the term ‘piggy-back ride’. This morning was like any other except for one thing – one thought – an epiphany.
Make them all laugh. Good, clean laughter from ordinary silliness and fun. Me? What am I thinking? All of them? This was a challenge for me – the time warden of breakfast, getting dressed, clean faces, brushed hair, clear your bowl, don’t hit your brother, you’re still not dressed?, we’re going to be late! – you get the idea. 1 down, 7 to go.
The baby was easy. A little snuggle and kiss. 2 seconds. I wish I could giggle that quick. And her 4 year old sister enjoyed the Monkey Ride too. Now for the boys. They’re tough shells to crack, especially in the morning. However, on this morning I found my 5, 7, and 9 year old all together playing. JD is my happy guy, so I thought I’d try him out first. A swift shift of the hips – bump, bump – he was a goner, as was the on-looking 5 year old. We all danced some hula, and the laughter began, my 9 year old the goofiest dancer of all. 6 down, 2 to go.
At first, I didn’t think I could make my husband laugh. He’s usually the joker, and I couldn’t deliver a punch line if I was a UPS driver. So I set him aside. I’ll just make him extra happy – a nice back rub, big bear hug, sweet kisses – that’ll do. Then Jr. came in. He brought with him 2 guns from an action figure. I tried aiming them, complaining the trigger was way too small, asking if it was loaded. A little giggle. All right!! Good enough for me. I’m new at this stuff. 7 kids laughing before breakfast. Mission accomplished.
But Jr. also brought the baby to me, and babies are one of the greatest tools in the happiness handbag. Just as I was going to pinch her chubby cheek, she stuck her tongue out. “She’s trying to curl her lip like Elvis!” I shrieked, as my lip automatically curled and a low, “Thank ya, thank ya very much,” came effortlessly out of my mouth. That did it. The 3 of us burst into laughter, while Jr. tried to curl his lip, completely unaware of who Elvis was.
Laughter isn’t so far away. It is contagious. It is inspiring. Sane, boring people like myself can start a ripple of laughter through an entire household. And it was easy. I wanted to do it. I enjoyed doing it. The laughter epiphany wasn’t about some challenge for my sake, but about making the lives of my family a little brighter, lighter, and happier.
One of my favorite movies, “The Gospel According to John” portrays Jesus as very happy, usually smiling, and even laughing. I like that Jesus. He makes sense to me. Why wouldn’t He enjoy life? He calls us to an abundant life. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)
Maybe tomorrow I won’t be a time warden. I’ll give dance lessons and Monkey Rides instead.