musings, memoir, life in the mountains

Just Thinking...

Just Thinking...
October 04
~ welcome! ~ I'm Anna Herrington ~ aka Anna F. aka Mom aka Nana aka 'JT...,' aka Writer. and NaNoWriMo fan ~ Photographs my own unless noted ~ To see all posts, click on 'Just Thinking...' above, and scroll ~ Writing here at Open Salon since June 2010 ~ Also writing at (my link, below), in 'A Different Perspective' collection ~ writing submissions there are welcome. ~


JULY 23, 2010 1:56PM

Searching for Ridiculous

Rate: 25 Flag

My husband grew up in the land of Silly. His family's motto:  Avoid all debate, no point in argument, do what you're told. Otherwise, invent puns and other wordplay to pass the day, bring them to the dinner table, and let laughter ensue.  

That paragraph is obviously not written by one of them.

As youngest, Husband was tutored by the best Punster Dad, encouraged by three older Sisters in all things witty, and was named Best Retorts or Cutest Quips or something like that in middle school. His writing would be highly entertaining.

I grew up in the land of Discussions and Debate. Our motto? Hash it out over the dinner table and be prepared to defend your argument. Specifics are expected, preferably a reasonable outline or schedule to be included, depending on the subject of the debate.

With about that much humor.

As youngest, my first arguments were usually unformed and poor on specifics, I would get flustered when a strong well-thought-out argument came my way. But my sister was brilliant at this game and she loved to teach at an early age, so I became her first student. I learned to be decisive, to prioritize quickly, and to be quick in my debating skills....this can also be called picking a fight I later learned.

When Husband and I met, I was entranced by his charm and his humor, while he found my quick problem-solving skills and penchant for brain-storming novel and impressive. 

All was bliss.  

Then we set up house and had children. 

One detail that ought to be mentioned here:  Oldest child and I were a welcomed duo when Husband and I got together and Middle child arrived before we actually set up house, so "set up house and had children" was part of Day One.  

It was clear very quickly that we needed coping skills. It was not clear at all what those coping skills were going to be.

Oldest child was and is a Force of Nature. He ran as soon as he walked. He rarely sat down as a child, he doesn't sit down now. He paces. He acted without thought all throughout childhood, he was the poster child for ADHD, while we were the poster parents for non-medicating. Not even an aspirin in our house. For better or worse, we chose to raise a non-medicated, hyperactive child, and today we are thrilled with the adult he has become.

I also have white hair and I'm not even fifty yet.

For fourteen years we lived on a high-tension wire of stress, not only because of Oldest Child and his energy, but also because of almost every other choice we made. We had embraced the "Live Simply so Others May Simply Live" lifestyle espoused by the ubiquitous bumper sticker all over the Pacific Northwest in the nineties, and we spent most of that materialistic decade in various simple abodes. A one room cabin in the woods. A three bedroom sort of cabin in the woods. A fancier hippie cabin (read: nicer woodworking detail, no amenities) with solar lighting, and an outhouse in the woods.

A bit small for this crowd.

Eventually there were three Sons, two dogs, and a fierce, unafraid cat that kept the neighbor dog away. There was not enough income, and too much shouting. My debating skills and incisiveness ruined any family harmony that existed, Husband was too overwhelmed to joke, and the unintended consequence of having smart children is that they were better at debate than I at a frighteningly early age.

By the time we'd moved away from our cabin-y life and headed back East to care for elderly parents, by the time we'd wreaked havoc on the traditional notions we found there for four years, after we'd tended and finally buried two parents, moved back out west one summer following three cozy fun-filled cross-country drives -- the last in a Penske moving truck towing a mini van -- my nerves had been so thoroughly thrashed that the joke about the rope going into the bar, being asked if it has ID, and it replies, "I'm a frayed knot..." was my closest self-identifying parallel. 

In Oregon, Oldest's teenaged years hit the heights of glory and unbelievable situations, Middle child grew sullen and was ignored far too often, and Youngest child was.....youngest. Eccentric. The living male embodiment of Oregon's state motto:  "She flies by her own wings."

Maybe medication could've been introduced with great benefit here, but it was not. We were exhausted, mentally and emotionally.

Then the day came. Middle child said yet another sassy remark and I just knew it was over, I was losing it.

In a stroke of Grace, instead of the screech I thought was about to fly out, I heard myself singing, with the worst operatic quality, "You're pissing me oooffffff!" 

Silence.   Staring.   We both looked confused.

"You're pissing me off tooooo!" he sang back. And then for the next ten minutes, we both sang out our resentments, our anger, our pissed-off-ness back and forth, all in Opera Voice, before we both started laughing.

We were eventually transformed by this. Oldest child and I sang out our back-and-forth crap for months, ridiculous puns slowly made their way into our repertoire, youngest even tried making some up. Silliness was invited more often and it began to leave it's healing mark. We were learning to cope in a completely new and alien way for me. As the quote by the Dalai Lama says, "Honesty without compassion is cruelty," so I began to subscribe to my own "Intellect without humor is a drag."

So last night, when Middle Son stood at the door and began his comedic routine, I was ready.

"I'm going out now..." he called out while standing unnaturally erect, hands to his side. 

"Where are you off to?" I reply.

"Why do you ask?" is his response. I look up to see Middle son's arms stretched diagonally over his head, big grin on his face.

I catch on. 

"Every parent wants to know where their kid is off to," I say as my leg shoots out horizontally to parallel my two arms, sort of.

I smile to myself as the game goes on for several minutes. So silly really, the kind of behavior that might not be welcomed at the intellect's table, the kind that seems downright inappropriate sometimes in this world of uncertainty and strife, but I don't care anymore. I've learned how to laugh, how to lighten up a little, not take myself so seriously.

Our sons search us out for company, Husband and I are still happily together after 21 years, and his smile still takes my breath away. I have many reasons to be light of heart. 

While we still hash out discussions at the table, still engage our kids in the process of coping with the world, our coping skills have matured.

Now we're willing to be ridiculous at the drop of a hat. 






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I love knowing that someone else finds joy in breaking out the ridiculous, after years as the serious, I concur.
I like the title.. and the story that goes with it... May we all find ridiculous....
Well I'm glad to read you found it; I was going to share some had you not ;)
Silly saves me from going nutz with all the adhd etc.. around here. The world needs a ridiculous movement.
May this be passed on to the next generation, except the white hair before 50.
Mark: Thanks! I'm glad your family had more balance with the fun, it took me awhile..
Romantic: Glad you came by, the feeling romantic is only enhanced by humor...
ask: I was just about to change that title when your comment came along, glad you came by! and yes, may we all find the ridiculous here and there...
Amanda: I'd love more ridiculousness if you have any extra : ) you'd better keep it for yours I guess, and a global ridiculous movement--great idea!
OE: I had a coping skill that came in a little box called sunshine blonde, but I kind of like the silver, as I prefer to call it : )
a wonderful read-thanks for sharing-sounds like a life of adventure. I'm a tad jealous.
Glad you came by, was fun living as a free spirit, we had minimal bills, we had time, but it sure makes growing roots tougher....
What a great thing to find after so many years. I'm so glad you didn't medicate your kids like millions of other parents. It kills the creative side of a child, just so they can get some peace. Great Post!
What a success story this is! Finding a way to enjoy life, warts and all, is all too rare for many. But my favorite part, and the part I am most envious of is: "Husband and I are still happily together after 21 years, my husband's smile still takes my breath away. "
I smiled all the way through and even laughed out loud at the thought of you and your son's singing and arm moving moments.
What a wonderful, strong family.
Thanks scanner, I felt alone for many a year, and doubted incessantly, but am glad we stuck with it -- with addiction in the family, I just couldn't set up that dynamic for him...

Lezlie -- glad you came by, and I can hardly believe my good fortune, I've not always been so fortunate to have someone willing to grow and change together, share life.....although some days... : )

Lady -- I think of you as Lady somehow more than LunchLady --- I'm glad you liked reading! I'm sorry I learned relatively late how to enjoy us...not too late!
Delightful tale of the progress into maturity. The world really is too horribly disappointing to take seriously. The essence of humor is tragedy and the greater the tragedy the funnier the joke for humor bleeds off the grief and bestows strength to one's inner structure. I have been through some pretty horrible times and my personal strength remains only because I learned to laugh at the worst of times. We are each merely small towers of dynamic chemical compounds involved in amusingly trivial attempts to discover eternal universals and of course it all amounts to very little in the end but it sure is amusing.
We just yelled about everything, but we were also pretty funny. It was exhausting. My own home is much quiet than my Home of
Origin and I think that's okay too. Interesting post. RR
loveable lunacy is necessary to a Good Life r.
Jan: I'm learning,,,it helps make grief tolerable somewhat doesn't it?
Bernadine: I'm known as the bellower around my husband's clan but they're jokers so I'm sure they're just kidding...
Jonathon, Bonnie: Thanks for coming by, we all need a little levity!
Please excuse typos in my comments, I'm borrowing a laptop while we're away for the weekend, and I'm getting a little better at it... thanks for all the kudos! Y'all are great...
Thanks for the view into yours and your husband's colloquial kingdoms. rated.
It sounds like you have the parenting thing very well figured out. Ridiculousness rules!
Have known families with this dynamic and find it quite fascinating and liberating. Very unlike the dynamic of my own family and having been taught "peace at all costs" and the art of verbal repression at a young age. That did, however, change dramatically as many here know. Great post!
Caroline: you're welcome! and thanks for coming by...
cartouche: hear, hear! or is that "here! here!" ?
Just Cathy: hmmm.... is it harder to learn to be 'verbally free' or to learn how to 'shut up' ?? I'm afraid it's harder to shut up sometimes : )
ka teasley? kat easley? kate asley? : Whoever you are, I love that you came by... yes, it is a process, I hear you on needing some peace and quiet, and if it helps, now I really miss having a young family......don't worry, you'll find your balance, and kids tend to love you regardless!
Without is just scary. I loved this post!
Thank you, Lydia, glad you made your way over here...
Love it because I'm a joker and love to laugh. This is one of the things I miss most about having my kids grown and gone, they were so much fun. Thank you.
I am mesmerized by this post. Your family is imperfectly perfect.
Hey, someone is the mayor of Silly Town, and I just met her! Wonderful post. So true.
What a delight it was to read this. I laughed out loud. Thanks.
Sister 2 said to me, sister 3 on my trek to see silly punster dad, how did we grow up with no opinion or thoughts? I however, was rescued when I married Mr. knowledge and opinion. Now I have more opinion than laughter. This balance is a lot of hard work!
frustratedartist: I hear you! It is a fine line...and my silly husband is also a dour Lutheran so some days it is my song and dance routine that keeps us from falling into Lake Woebegone...funny how things swap and evolve in a life.
Laughing loud and strong and cheering! If I were Italian I'd surely have a word for the delight I feel reading this.