I usually have no problem finding something to laugh at in any
given situation. It is my default personality. I laugh when I'm
happy. I laugh when I'm nervous. I laugh when I'm confused. I laugh
when someone offers unwelcomed advice or gossip. I laugh when I
discover that a large shake at McDonald's contains more than 800
I long ago realized that most experiences and events, when
pressed, will cough up at least one joke or two for me.
But this week?
I stopped watching the news coverage after a teacher from
Newtown described how she locked herself and her kids in a bathroom
and told them she loved them. She did not want the last thing they
heard to be gunfire. I felt an almost physical pain in hearing that
story. I had to walk away and focus on the busy weekend at hand -
shuttling kids to piano recitals, moving furniture around for
plaster repair, and addressing 100 Walsh Family Christmas cards for
mailing. For once, I was relieved to have our ridiculous schedule
and its many wonderful diversions.
But what I couldn't anticipate were the posts on Facebook
disputing everything from God to guns to mental illness. Then I
read the eulogy given by an amazing mother, Veronique Pozner.
Veronique spoke of her son Noah with such obvious pride and careful
attention to what made him extraordinary that it simply took my
breath away. She wanted the world to understand how unique and
marvelous her son had been.
Everywhere I turned, I sensed sadness, shock, and anger.
So I averted my eyes, looked down, and tried to avoid it
And that's when I noticed Joey. My youngest son had taken
complete advantage of his distracted mother and packed up every
last item from our pantry into plastic bags. He gathered them all
in the middle of the living room and announced that they were ready
"What is all this?" I asked, annoyed that I would now be
required to devote an hour to re-stocking our pantry shelves.
"Dees are Cwismis pwesents for Gwetchen!"
Gretchen is the daughter of a friend. Joey is madly in love with
Gretchen. He tells everyone he meets that she is his best pal.
Gretchen, of course, is wholly unaware of Joey's affections for
"Do you really think Gretchen wants THREE cans of tuna for
Christmas?" I questioned as I started placing items back where they
"Dos are her FAY-voh-WIT," assured Joey.
I had to marvel at the kid's tenacity. He had somehow managed to
convince himself that the way to Gretchen's heart was through food.
And by God, food was what he would deliver.
I couldn't help but laugh.
It was the first time in several days that I experienced
something other than intense melancholy. Part of me felt guilty.
Part of me felt inappropriate. And part of me felt like my old self
Joey has always had a knack for diffusing tension in our
household. He is a clown and a performer. He also has a keen eye
for when people are troubled or despondent. My husband refers to
this as having a "good social IQ."
I refer to it as "being Joey."
I choose to celebrate the magic of my son today as Veronique
would want us all to celebrate the magic of her Noah. There is such
laughter and love to children. I am grateful Veronique had the
strength to remind us of that with her powerful and poignant
I am also grateful for my Joey.
After we put away the pantry items, Joey turned to search our
house for something else to give Gretchen for Christmas. I can hear
him now, rifling through drawers and closets with reckless abandon.
What he comes up with is anyone's guess. But I can assure you:
This ought to be good.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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