Part of the reason I married my Mark is that we laugh together. Laughter is important. He is a great practical joker. When we were dating, he was a hog farmer.* Most people don’t know that hogs will die if they get too hot. I would go to the farm with him in the summers and help spray off the sows. One time he said, “Sows love to have water run over their ears.” When I sprayed one, she shook her head, sending manure and mud all over me. Mark laughed–I didn’t.
Our practical joking gene didn’t miss the kids.** When she was young, my oldest daughter, Emma, used to unlock the door when Mark got home from work. She was hoping that when he turned the key, he would lock himself out. I used to drink a bottle of soda first thing in the morning. One time, she hid all of my soda. I couldn’t imagine letting myself run out, but there was none in the pantry or frig. I was climbing the walls by the time the girls woke up. I drove them to town in their pajamas. When we got home, my daughter said, “Oh, yeah, your soda’s hid in the upstairs closet.”
And then there is the younger daughter–Lydia. Often, our family all reads the same book, at the same time. We set the book in a central location, we each have our own bookmarks, and whenever we have a chance, we read some. My husband likes to use a tea wrapper. One time, Lydia upwrapped half-a-dozen tea bags and put the wrappers in the book so he wouldn’t know which one marked his spot.
Reading is so important to a kid’s education and overall thinking skills. I encourage you to choose a book that your family can all read at the same time. If you have younger kids, you can read to them. Then, talk about the book at random times. You do have to be careful that the other person is as far along in the book as you are and vice versa.
One book that is great for the entire family–boys and girls alike–is Gunner’s Run by Rick Barry. Mark started reading it last night. He asked me, “How far are you?” I said, “I am to the part where the Flying Fortresses dropped the bombs through the B-24′s flight path. “Fortunately, the bombs passed between our planes on the downward plummet to Kiel, but the sight of those near misses had my heart pounding.” (Barry, 21) Mark asked, “Do you want to know what happens next?” “No!” Mark sometimes reveals what is going to happen before the rest of us get there. We have learned to cut him off.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 (a) says, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.” In 2014, I encourage you make abundant time to read and laugh with your family. You will establish important bonds that last a lifetime.
*(To animal lovers everywhere: Those hogs were really well treated. The indoor ones had climate controlled, clean stalls, healthy amounts to eat and drink, and routine veterinary care. The outdoor ones had a large area in which to run around, shelter from heat and cold, and the rest the same as the indoor ones.)
**When practical joking with children, ground rules are important. Ours were:
1. Make sure your joke won’t cause hurt feelings.
2. Make sure your joke won’t cause any permanent damage: i.e. Lydia merely hid the soda; she didn’t dump it down the drain. Emma knew which page her dad was on before she put in the tea bags.
Gunner’s Run is available on Amazon. To find it quickly, copy and paste the following link into your URL, or to get there faster, just click on it. http://www.amazon.com/Gunners-Run-Rick-Barry/dp/1591667615/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264128359&sr=1-1