Laugh
When I hear my two year olds deep, rolling laughter it engulfs me with delight. No matter what ails me, it brings me joy. Laughter is miraculous. It can change moods, relieve stress, calm tension, create bonds, and build our capability to stretch our patience. In the midst of many escalating moments in our family, we have been able to abruptly change direction when one of the kids says something funny. Instead of pursuing the argument, we laugh.This happened one night when we enjoyed taco salad for dinner.
 
We were in the process of cleaning up when my son brought the salsa from the table and carelessly emptied it onto the counter and floor. We chuckled a bit as we all worked together to clean it up. He promptly returned to the table, grabbed the bag of shredded cheese by the bottom and dumped it out across the table, chairs, floor and then counter. I could see it all happen but wasn’t quick enough to stop the destruction. The contents of the now empty bag of cheese were staggered throughout the kitchen. 
 
Oddly, my immediate reaction was to laugh, wondering how could he be so clumsy, but as I comprehended his carelessness and the new mess, we would again have to clean up, I withheld my snicker, and could feel my frustration rise. I began an internal battle with myself. “Do I pursue resolution with laughter or anger?” I was leaning towards getting mad. As I let my frustration envelop the situation, Daniel, as well as our happiness, retreated. Even in this moment, I knew if I could just laugh about the emptied bag of cheese, the situation would have a quicker and happier resolution.
 
 
In the end, I knew whether I yelled or laughed, taught him or made demands, the cheese would get cleaned up. My actions would only affect my stress level, the feeling in the home, and the way I made my kids feel. I decided, by some miracle, that I would rather handle the situation with laughter than anger. As I again began to laugh, I was able to extend my patience and be kind about the situation. My laughter even enabled my son to crack a smile, and together we went back to the kitchen to clean up the cheese, and discussed ways that he could avoid making such messes in the future.
 
In another similar situation (also involving cheese) we had the opportunity to let laughter bring joy. As my husband and I were relishing a Sunday afternoon nap, we suddenly heard our two oldest children screaming “Fire!” There are few things that can persuade a parent to move faster. We bolted to the dining room to discover our children jumping from couch, to chair, to floor, throwing handfuls of shredded cheese through the air and screaming “Fire!” We walked backed to our room, locked the door, and laughed until we could laugh no more.
 
After we gained control of ourselves, we returned to the kitchen, put away the remainder of the cheese and gave a little lecture on wasting food. We had the kids help us clean up the explosion of cheese and then, taught them a lesson on the seriousness of yelling fire, and the boy who cried wolf. This is one of the moments in my children’s lives that I am so grateful I enjoyed with laughter rather than anger. We can allow appropriate laughter to permeate and improve almost any situation.
 
This is an excerpt of Michelle Packard's book Family Ever After published by Familius. To learn more click here: https://familius.com/family-ever-after#.UT__HNZnpYU