Laugh in the Morning

I usually drive Younger to school in the mornings. Last year, he rode with Elder. So, he hasn’t ridden the bus regularly in the morning since Middle School. But on those long gone days, I would watch him trudge unenthusiastically around the front of the bus, then, as he would climb the first step, the bus driver would throw her head back and laugh while Younger trudged unenthusiastically to his seat.

I never knew what he said to her, just that he entertained her daily with his honest comments on returning to school for yet another day.

Today, the school practiced a late start in preparation for snow days. So, for the first time in more than a year, Younger trudged unenthusiastically in front of the waiting bus. Then he climbed the first step and, from my watchful position, I saw the bus driver suddenly break into laughter. And Younger trudged unenthusiastically to his seat.

I don’t know what he said to her. I don’t really have to know. Because I know Younger.

And he’s usually my laugh in the morning, too.


Manly Utterance of Surprise

With my husband in Colorado and Elder at Mizzou, Younger and I were left with only each other to entertain us. So, when we were delivered pizza to our booth and he immediately bit into a slice only to exclaim, “Haaaaa,” while simultaneously bending over his plate to expel the burning cheese, I burst into giggles.

He glared at me. “Not funny.”

“Well, a little funny,” I managed between smothered snorts. “You made a pretty loud noise for my child who likes to fade into the background.”

“I did not squeal,” he objected.

“I never said squeal.” I tried and failed to swallow my continuing laughter. I was exhausted and giggles always win during exhaustion. “I said ‘loud noise.’ ”

Still insulted, he repeated, “I didn’t squeal. I emitted a manly utterance of surprise.”

“Sure,” I gulped. “Manly utterance of surprise.”

Eventually, I settled into mere random chuckles, and we continued with the pizza — him with a little more caution than he had displayed previously.

“I don’t think I told you,” he mentioned towards the end of the meal, “that I scared a lady with Grandpa last week.”

“With Grandpa?” I questioned his sentence structure. “Grandpa  helped you scare a lady?”

“Sure,” he responded without even a pause. “Grandpa hid in the bushes and jumped out at her and she released a not-so-manly squeal.”

And I was in giggles and tears again.

We entertain each other pretty well, I guess. Not sure that’s a bragging point. Especially as he tells me I’m broken.

But I still hear that manly squeak now and then. And when Younger recognizes my quiet giggling, he hollers, “It wasn’t that funny, Mom.”

Then why am I still laughing?

For Life

Tomorrow, my husband and I will have been married for twenty-two years.

Last Sunday, Younger announced, “If the two of you ever divorce, it will be over straws.”

Because I am capable of accepting the straw and the cup in one hand at a drive-thru window. And my husband wants to be crowned king for a day so that he can call an end to such shenanigans from a food service employee. A straw and cup must be passed through the window separately. Yes, he would waste his king-of-the-day status on straws.

Not that straws are the only issue in our marriage. We have also argued whether a tree or a pothole did more damage to the alignment of my truck.

I hit the pothole, by the way.

Just sayin’.

He insists on using words like “north” and “south” when giving directions. Like I have time for such vague concepts.

I think he should wear clothes in colors that are allowed on the same field of play.

He thinks I should just accept my hair will upon occasion stick in every direction like I’ve been playing with electrical sockets.

And then there is that whole math thing…

In twenty-two years, we’ve laughed.

And we’ve cried.

We’ve lived.

And we’ve loved.

Because we’re married.

And that’s what we promised we would do.

Who knew life was so long, anyway?

Poke, Poke

I apologize for posting a day late. Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I guess I focused so much of my attention on him that I forgot it was a Thursday.

I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Actually, the kind of attention I gave him, he may thank me for the neglect.

The other day, he and Younger wandered into the house after an afternoon on the farm. And almost immediately they were engaged in a wrestling match in my kitchen, while I tried to step around them between the counter and the stove.

“Hey, Mom,” Younger panted, attempting to thrust one finger successfully between my husband’s swinging arms. “You need to poke, Dad.”

I ignored him.

“No, Mom, hey, poke Dad,” he insisted, still struggling to thread his hand through my husband’s defenses. “I’m serious. You need to poke, Dad.”

“I know he’s ticklish, Younger. So is Elder.”

“No-oo-oo,” Younger drawled. “Not ticklish.” He connected successfully with his target, earning a groan and flinch from my husband. “Sore. From chopping wood all morning.” With a grin, he sauntered from the room. “You can think me for that piece of useful information later.”

So, yesterday, while I was trying to watch Mizzou, my alma mater, in the Citrus Bowl, my husband aggravated me and abused me and taunted me with his bring-it-on attitude until I jabbed one finger into his pectoral.

“Ahh,” he groaned then laughed then groaned again because laughing hurt worse than the poke.

And from the other room, Younger hollered, “You’re welcome, Mom.”

All day long — aggravation, abuse, and taunts ending in a jab and a groan and a hollered, “You’re welcome, Mom.”

So, yesterday was my husband’s birthday…

But I got the gift.

Best Medicine

A few weeks ago, Younger thought he might have strep throat, so off to the doctor we went. Now, he’s had his throat swabbed — and gagged and gagged — often enough that I didn’t even consider reminding him of the process. But, apparently, when the nurse had finished with the preliminary questions and, snapping plastic gloves onto her hands, announced, “Now for the fun part,” Younger momentarily forgot the usual strategy.

But, off to the side and a little behind him, I totally missed his brief moment of panic. Fortunately, he shared his appalled reaction with me the second the nurse stepped from the room.

“Mom,” he said, turning to me with wide eyes while hunched on the small, padded table. “When she said that about the fun part and was putting on those gloves, I got a little concerned. I just about told her, ‘Hey, lady, I just came in here for a sore throat.'”

Apparently, he had a moment of fear that she intended to check orifices he hadn’t brought there to be checked.

I laughed at him.

“I thought,” he continued over my giggling, his eyes still round as he blinked at me, “I thought my day was going downhill in a hurry.”

And so I laughed with even more amusement.

I reckon it might not have much effect on a sore throat, but for this exhausted mother who had run from work to the school to the doctor’s office and still had the pharmacy and Elder’s basketball game to go…

Laughter really is the best medicine.



Good Looking Cookies

The other day, Elder decided to bake cookies.

Sitting at the island, supposedly reading my Kindle, I decided to watch — unobtrusively. Except that plan went awry fairly quickly. To be specific, it went awry the moment I realized he was carelessly scooping spoonful after spoonful of flour then dumping the heaping mounds into the measuring cup that sit in position several inches away.

Eyeing the flour that wasn’t making it the full distance to the cup, I said, “It would be easier just to stick the cup into the flour.”

“This is how she showed us to do it,” he responded, intent on the rhythm of his scoop, dump, scoop, dump.

She is the teacher of the cooking class at the middle school. Because she is apparently an authority, sanctioned by a degree, Elder has little interest in contradicting advice from his mother, who, while he is at the age of seventeen, isn’t an authority in anything. I expect I’ll get smarter as he gets older. We’ll see.

“Well, apparently, she isn’t the one buying the flour,” I responded snottily. I get snotty sometimes. Maybe a lot of times. I expect I’ll get less snotty as he gets older. We’ll see.

“I’ve got this under control,” Elder assured me. “Don’t you worry.”

And that’s when I noticed he had lined the counter with tinfoil. And, sure enough, within a few minutes, having reached the stated amount of flour, he carefully lifted the strip of tinfoil, shaking all the spilled flour back into the original container. Then he wadded up the tinfoil, threw it away, and tore another strip.

For the sugar.

“Well, then she’s not the one buying tinfoil,” I said, still snotty.

His father walked by, glanced at Elder transporting sugar from the container to the measuring cup by messy spoonfuls, and said, “I’m starting to understand how you get flour into closed cabinets when you cook.”

Which has always been a mystery to us. But Elder has always been a little distracted. Flour in cabinets he never opened while baking is one of the smaller mysteries.

But then I realized this seventeen-year-old young man was baking cookies. And I shouldn’t give him grief. I should enjoy him. So, I sealed my mouth shut. Until he banged a wooden spoon against the measuring cup to insure he had loosened every grain of sugar. That’s when I giggled.

And then he added sticks of butter to the bowl like bombs from an air raid.

“Not everything I do is funny, Mom,” he told me, peering at the recipe.

“No, I know, I’m sorry.” And I tried to be good. Except he turned on the mixer and I was suddenly ducking my head and throwing up my arms in the sudden shower of butter and sugar, giggling even harder. “I think, maybe, I should go upstairs.” Gathering my Kindle and phone, I beat a hasty retreat to my bedroom.

About twenty minutes later, dutifully restrained, I ventured back into the kitchen for a drink, finding Elder at the island concentrating on dropping just the right amount of dough on the baking sheet. Beside him, cooling on paper towels, was the first batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Completely satisfied with himself, Elder announced, “Those are some good looking cookies.”

“Yes,” I agreed around my grin. “They surely are. Those are some good looking cookies.”

Standing at over six feet tall, muscles defined after three years of weights as well as baseball, basketball, and football, hair long, curly, and messy, because he has refused to cut it in six months in accordance with a contest between him and a friend — same with the scraggly beard — he is emerging into an adult. One that I respect and admire.

But it’s the little boy moments that keep him sweet.

And those surely were some good looking cookies.

Monkey Butts

My husband and the boys bought me a St. Louis Cardinal’s sock monkey as a Mother’s Day present, and the little guy rides beside me on the front seat of our truck. Sometimes, he even snuggles in my lap. But the other morning I needed to clear the fog from the inside of my windshield, and he was the first bit of cloth I could get my hands on.

“Mom,” Younger ventured, casting a sideways glance at me as I swiped at the glass with the doubled-over monkey. “Does Dad know you do that?”

Exhausted, and a bit sick, I grumbled, “I don’t know what your dad knows.” But then, repentant for the snarky response, I added, “Actually, I think your dad is the kind of man who would take a certain amount of pride in admitting that his wife cleans her windows with a monkey’s butt.”

Younger grinned. “There is that.”

We’re not a family that will ever survive on our dignity.

But laughter will keep us fine.