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The Family That Laughs Together, Stays Together *

The Family That Laughs Together, Stays Together *

* Blogger’s note: Due to the graphic nature of the following story and the family nature of this website, please note that throughout the blog, the word “laugh” and it’s uses will be used to represent the word “vomit.”

Ever had a stomach virus? For those that have, you may skip this next paragraph as I would hate to conjure painful flashbacks. For those that have not yet had the pleasure, let me describe a bout with a stomach virus. Imagine the worst 48 hours of your life. There. That’s pretty much it. Imagine dying of thirst, but not being able to drink even water because you can’t hold any liquids down. Imagine setting up a makeshift bed on the bathroom floor tile because there’s no real point in leaving the room where you’ll be spending most of the night plus you can’t waste precious seconds running all the way from your bedroom. Imagine involuntary chills, but a temperature of 102. Imagine if a genie appeared to you and said, “What is your wish, master?” and you unhesitant in your joyous answer, “Genie, kill me. I wish for death. Make it swift, but make it happen.” Of course this would be a strategic error because you could probably just as easily wish for the stomach virus to go away and still enjoy the rest of your life.

The TODDLER was taking a late afternoon nap when he laughed *(see above note) for the first time that Saturday. As adults when it comes to the unpleasant but inevitable task of laughing, we are experienced enough to run to the bathroom commode, laugh it up and flush it down. Toddlers can’t get to the bathroom so they just laugh and laugh. And man, there’s nothing more unpleasant than cleaning up projectile laughter. You find laughter in places that seem impossible. The TODDLER wasn’t done though. He began laughing every 15 minutes. The poor little guy was miserable. He didn’t understand what was happening. He only understood that he wanted it to stop. Every time he felt the laughter start to rise he would whine a meager, “No. No. Done. Done” as if to reason with his stomach that he was no longer enjoying this thank you very much. A doctor was called and prescribed an anti-nausea medication. Since it was after 6:00 on a Saturday evening, the prescription was called into an all night pharmacy. It was in the next town over and about a 15 minute drive. The FATHER raced over only to find that the all night pharmacy was closed from 7 PM to 7 AM that particular night due to “unforseen circumstances”. Of course it was. Upon arriving back at home empty handed the FATHER discovered that the TODDLER had been laughing in his own room, giggling in his parents’ bed, chortling in the hallway, and guffawing everywhere else. The MOTHER and FATHER would try to put a bucket in front of him, but the TODDLER began to associate that action with laughing and would push it away in hopes that it would stave off the next joke. Of course it didn’t and only made things quite a bit messier. Carpets needed to be scrubbed. The TODDLER’s bedsheets were soon soaking in the bathtub in an attempt to save them for future use. An attempt that would prove futile. The MOTHER and FATHER’s bedsheets were thrown into a washing machine that was about to have a very long night.

The FAMILY rushed to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital. The title “emergency room” is one of those oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp” or “holy war”. Nothing about that place moves at the pace that emergencies should. And if you ever feel depressed because you’re sitting home on a Saturday night, take a walk over to your local emergency room. After spending 5 minutes in the packed waiting room of miserable, injured, and sick people, you’ll walk out feeling like a million bucks happily returning to your boring but healthy Saturday night at home. The FAMILY arrived at 9:00 and was seen at midnight. The TODDLER was given some medication that actually seemed to help. He stopped laughing long enough to hold down some liquids. The little guy was exhausted from his 6 hour ordeal however. The doctor looked at the PARENTS and said, “It’s so sad isn’t it? You just wish it was you going through it rather than him, don’t you?” Stupidly the FATHER agreed. And the irony began. When the FATHER turned to the MOTHER, he noticed that her face had gone deathly pale. She looked at him and said, “I don’t believe this. I’m about to start laughing.” She excused herself and went off to find a ladies room to chuckle in private. It was like the end of The Exorcist. The TODDLER was no longer possessed, but the evil spirits had hopped over to the nearest warm body. The hospital prescribed an anti-nausea medication (the same one the doctor had prescribed over the phone 5 hours before) and released the FAMILY. The pale MOTHER and recovering TODDLER headed out to the parking lot while the FATHER settled the bill. As he was filling out the paperwork, he suddenly felt the blood completely leave his face like the tide rushing out to sea just before a massive tidal wave. He felt his mouth go dry and his hands go clammy. You’ve got to be kidding me. The clerk handed his insurance card back and said cheerily,”You’re all set. Good night!” The FATHER grunted something incomprehensible and pondered turning right to the bathroom or left to the parking lot. Being the good father that he was, he decided to get his sick wife and baby home. He walked out to the car where the MOTHER was already in the driver’s seat. He was trying to talk himself out of laughing until he arrived home. No such luck. Things were just too funny on this night. The car was barely moving when the window was rolled down and the FATHER shared a joke with the parking lot. And then there were three…

Upon arrival home, the MOTHER and TODDLER wearily climbed into the master bed which was now a bare mattress with a bare comforter. The TODDLER quickly fell asleep while the MOTHER made a few more trips to the bathroom. The MOTHER and FATHER debated getting the prescription filled immediately or waiting until morning. The MOTHER reasoned that there would be no sleep without some form of medication. The FATHER reluctantly agreed, climbed into the car that didn’t have remnants of laughter all over the passenger door, and headed out to the other all night pharmacy which coincidentally was in the strip mall across the street from the previous all night pharmacy. This begs the question: what’s wrong with the inhabitants of this town that they need two all night pharmacies within fifty yards of each other? The FATHER felt queasy and exhausted, but was proud of his heroic efforts to take care of his family at 2:30 AM. In fact he felt downright thirsty. And he remembered that as a small boy, his mother always let him have Coke to help his upset stomach. So he picked up a bottle on his way out of the pharmacy. But always mindful of his weight, he settled for Diet Coke. Now this was stupid because A. he had probably dropped a pound or two anyway in the last couple of hours; B. the sweet coke syrup not found in Diet Coke was what helped upset stomachs and C. sipping the Diet Coke was probably the way to go rather than gulping half of the 20 ounce bottle in one swig. Needless to say the FATHER was halfway home when he felt the urge to cackle which quickly turned into a strong urge to hoot and holler. Having no time to pull over he rolled down the window and leaned out while acrobatically keeping the car straight. N
ow this was also stupid because if he had paid attention in Physics class he would know that expelling an object out of a vehicle moving 50 miles per hour would just bring said object right back into the vehicle at an equal velocity…or something like that. The joke was now on the FATHER not to mention the front seat of his car. Laughter: 2 Family Cars: 0. Had anybody been witness to this pathetic display, they would have seen a grown man driving a car down the highway screaming,
”AHHHHHHH! AHHHHHH! OH MY GOOOOODDD!!!!” Upon arrival at home, the FATHER quickly undressed and threw his clothes into the overworked washing machine. He jumped into the shower, scrubbed himself with the ferocity of an obsessive compulsive, toweled off, gave a pill to the MOTHER and took one for himself. He then staggered into bed and the family enjoyed a restless sleep for 2 hours.

The next two days were spent alternately on the couch and the bed. Frequent trips were made to the bathroom by both the MOTHER and the FATHER. The TODDLER was thankfully good as new and couldn’t understand why his parents didn’t enjoy it when he gleefully climbed all over them or jumped on their heads and why they remained in bed moaning all day. The MOTHER and FATHER were actually grateful that the TODDLER felt better. It would have been impossible to take care of him in this state. The FAMILY eventually recovered and actually relished in the weight loss. But they never will forget the night of 1000 Laughs.

So why do I recount this graphic tale that at times crosses the line of over sharing? Because looking back, it was a 72 hour period of time that can only be endured by people who truly love each other. Never has the term “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” been put to the test more. Because nothing says happy family like a night filled with laughter.

Why do kids whine?

Why do kids whine?

Editor’s note: The question had to be to be asked at least twice, because I’ve asked it at least a hundred times since I’ve had kids. I only have 2 boys- neither or even old enough to go to school full time- and they are both MASTER WHINERS!!! And the notion that girls whine more than boys is a complete and total MYTH.

If you have one of these whiners living in your house, this is not a post you’ll want to skip.

Here’s what my favorite Parenting Expert, Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions has to offer on this common question (yea, just getting really repetitive now)
WHY DO KIDS WHINE?:
Because we, as parents provide a PAYOFF! When kids whine – we DO SOMETHING and that something offers a payoff that makes the behavior continue.
When children whine, cling or display other annoying attention-seeking behaviors, they are trying to achieve a particular goal, or payoff. These irritating, frustrating, maddening behaviors are actually symptoms of a deeper issue.
All humans are hard-wired with two basic emotional needs – attention and power. The whining and attention-seeking behavior the whining child is displaying is intended to fulfill those two needs.

They get results

We also have to remember that children only continue behaviors that “work for them.” That is – they continue behaviors that get results. For a child who whines, clings and displays attention-seeking behaviors, she realizes that “Hey, this is a pretty effective way to get them to pay attention to me” or “Hey, this is a pretty effective tactic for me to get my way”…the child learns that whining provides a payoff. This behavior – if left unaddressed – will continue well into the teenage years.
Every time you pick up a whining child you’re providing a payoff for the behavior. He doesn’t hear your frustrated tone or your annoyed remark. He only knows that whining got him what he wanted. Parents essentially “train” their children that if the child is persistent with their whining, they will eventually get their way. This behavior “works” for the child and so she continues it. When this happens, the parent typically responds by picking up the child to make her stop, or, they respond with a reprimand such as “don’t hang on me”, “don’t be so whiny”, or even “I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Better than nothing

Whether the adult response was positive or negative, it fulfilled the child’s need for attention, and therefore the behavior resulted in a payoff. As the frequency of the whining and clinging increases, the parent’s response is almost always a negative reprimand. The child really wanted positive attention; but negative attention is better than none at all. And the cycle continues…whine/cling –> adult reprimand –> attention basket filled with negative attention –> child repeats (“maybe if I keep doing this, I’ll eventually get the positive attention I need) –> parent repeats with negative reprimand, etc.
Here’s the deal…children WILL have their needs for attention met – one way or another. If we don’t fill their attention baskets in positive ways – they will use negative attention-seeking behaviors. They know this works!

What kind of attention are you putting in YOUR kids’ basket?

Amy McCready is a wife and mom of two teenage boys. She founded Positive Parenting Solutions, Inc. in 2004 and developed the popular and successful Breakthrough Course that has changed the lives of thousands of parents through in-person seminars, speeches and online parenting training webinars. For more parenting articles and tips like the one above, visit Amy’s blog.

Woah! You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?

Woah! You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?

Is it me? When did little kids get such big attitudes? Look I love my five year old son, but sometimes the mouth on this kid makes Damien from the Omen look like Opie from the Andy Griffith Show. He fights me on everything.  He talks back. He disobeys. He throws tantrums. I would blame it on my less than adequate parental techniques and I do tend to be inconsistent with my behavioral therapy and discipline at times, but I know it’s not just my kid. Apparently my niece has got a little mean streak when it comes to talking to her parents. And I’ve heard stories from other parents too. Is it the TV shows they’re watching? Has Sesame Street turned a dark corner? “Guess what Elmo’s thinking about today? YA TA DA DAA! Elmo’s been thinking about…manipulation tactics” I don’t know. Should I calm down? I mean is it a side effect of society today? Our children are exposed to more media with computers, the internet, and more shows on more channels so maybe that’s having more of an influence on their behavior. They’re growing up much faster now. Too fast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my 5 year old, “I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS DURING YOUR TEENAGE YEARS! I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS NOW!” Of course he just stares at me…and then sort of giggles maliciously. Sends shivers down my spine.  Another problem is that his little protégé, my two year old, is starting to copy big brother, his hero, the way he always has. An angry frown and a “No, DADDY!” is a lot cuter coming from a 2 year old than a 5 year old…but he’ll get older. I’ve gotta nip that in the bud.

I know I sound like Old Man Loprete a la “what’s with these kids today?!”, but when I was the age of a kindergartener I wouldn’t DREAM of talking to my parents the way my kid talks to me. Now granted my father was 6’ 3” so a five year old talking back to him was somewhat frowned upon. Hell, a 40 year old talking back to him is somewhat frowned upon. My problem is that I’m 5’7” and my Amazon kid is already half my size. He’ll be taller than me by the 5th grade. Then I’m really sunk. I can just picture this conversation when he’s in high school.

Me (looking up at my 6’5” 17 year old): Son, you’re grounded.

Him (grabbing my hands and slapping my face with them): “Why you hitting yourself, Dad? Why you hitting yourself?

Okay now listen. My son is not Linda Blair from The Exorcist. He’s a wonderful, smart, funny, and mostly well behaved kid. We have a beautiful close relationship. No neglectful father Harry Chapin songs (Cat’s In The Cradle) or Springsteen-esque dysfunctional father/son stories (any Springsteen concert) here. If you watch Modern Family (and you should) the character of Phil Dunphy has a misguided parental approach called “peerenting”. Maybe that’s my problem. At times I think my son sees me more as a friend than a father. Not fair. I love teaching, playing, and spending time with my son…I just wish he would shut up and do what I tell him. I mean I waited a long time for this. Don’t you remember when your parents said “When you’re a parent you can tell your kids what to do.”? Come on, people! We’ve earned this! Let’s take back control! Occupy Our Kids!!!

Mel Brooks Was Right

Mel Brooks Was Right

by Chris Loprete
In one of his brilliant albums that I endlessly listened to growing up, Mel Brooks said “We mock the things we are to be.” My father and I always loved that line, but he obviously understood it more than I did at the time. Now I get it. Mel was talking about kids. And parents who used to be kids. And their kids… and their kids. It’s an endless cycle. “We mock the things we are to be”. It’s inevitable no matter how we try to stave it off or deny it. There should be a drinking game. Every time a kid says” I’ll never be like my parents” everyone has to drink. And then everyone has to take another drink when the parents says, ”Uh…yeah you will so just accept it.” At first, young parents look at it as a bad thing. Hell, even older parents cringe at the thought of it. Don’t believe me? Try telling your wife ‘You’re beginning to sound just like your mother.’ Just make sure you have a pillow and blankets when she makes you sleep in the car.
Here’s just one example. My father and I are very close, but he tended to be a little tough on me when it came to little league sports whether it was baseball or soccer. I have many rough memories of him sitting in the bleachers screaming instructions to me or chastising me for swinging at a ball in the dirt or kicking at a soccer ball that’s still about 10 feet away (to be fair, the poor man got saddled with a son with the hand/eye coordination of a T-Rex) . It’s the main reason why I now sit on the safe confines of my couch watching sports as opposed to playing them. I’m not talking out of school here.  My father admits that he got a little intense. Actually he doesn’t remember being THAT bad, but it’s always tougher on the small ears hearing it rather than the big mouth yelling it (love you, Dad).  He also lets me know that he has the same memories of his father growing up. I promised myself “I will never subject my boy to that torture. Some people are born athletes. I am not one of them and I will go easy on my boy in case he is not one either.” So maybe you can explain to me why it is that every Saturday
morning for the last two months I have been running up and down the sidelines of a soccer field at my neighborhood park yelling, “BRADEN,CHARGE THE BALL! GET IN THERE! DON’T BE AFRAID OF IT!  FOCUS! BE SOCCER READY!” It’s almost like I black out or have an out of body experience. One part of me knows it’s wrong. The other part of me doesn’t care because DARN IT! THE BOY’S GOT TO EXCEL AS AN ATHLETE! I mean GEEZ! He’s ALREADY 4 ½ YEARS OLD! Down in Naples, Florida my father is laughing his ass off. And so is Mel Brooks.
Chris is an actor/writer living in Los Angeles. He’s performed in movies, TV and on stage with the Groundlings Improvisation troupe, and the award winning Circle X Theatre Company. He recently performed his self penned critically acclaimed one man show “You’re From Philly, Charlie Brown” in several cities across the US. Chris currently works as an Associate Writer/Producer for ABC On-Air Promos for Reality and Comedy. He lives north of Los Angeles, in Santa Clarita, with his wife and two children.

Hypocritical Much?

Hypocritical Much?

I admit that sometimes I am a hypocrite.
Along with that mea culpa is the acknowledgment that I am far from perfect…and while I strive every day to improve myself a little more, perfection is simply not the goal.
Yesterday was a perfect example of my hypocrisy: While writing for my weekly column in Tidbits magazine, I let my frustration get the better of me and yelled at my kids for interrupting me while I was attempting to work.
The ironic hypocrisy is that I was writing a column about how important it is not to attempt to work when you should be parenting, which may very well result in lost concentration, unnecessary yelling, and the resentment of everyone involved.
I was so caught up in my determination to get my task completed that I nearly failed to see the paradox…which borders on amusing.
Perhaps admitting to you now that I am an imperfect mother, full of hypocrisy makes me less of a liar, but the truth is, I am no different than you.
Before you take offense, let me re-phrase. As parents, we do the best we can- and for that we shall be commended. Every day that we are alive is a new opportunity to learn and grow, slip and fall, and get back up again.
I have good days and bad. I am capable of extreme laughter as well as misplaced crankiness. I feel guilt and shame just as often as I feel pride and joy. If there is any lesson in life that keeps presenting itself to us over and over again- it is that the world is constantly balancing itself out.
Everywhere we look there is yin and yang. I am comforted by thoughts such as these, as I hope for you to be. After all, how would we know what a good day is without having a bad day to compare it to?
Hypocrisy is not so bad. It is merely a catalyst for our sincerity. At least, that is how I am justifying my imperfection at the moment.