Good Humor: Confessions of a Joke Wh%re

The-Power-of-Laughter

When you dream of your child’s future, what do you see? Rocket scientist? Brain surgeon? Leader of the free world?

While those all sound pretty great—I share your enthusiasm—there’s another parental fantasy I’ve been secretly indulging: comedy writer.

I can trace the early roots of my reverence for humor back to Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. When I was 7, I would brag that my mother didn’t watch TV except for Laugh-In. Her affection for the show must be what drew me in, but it was something else that kept me watching even though the jokes, gags, and sketches about sex and politics were beyond me. Sitting on my mother’s white shag rug next to black Lucite cube tables, watching a small TV perched on the shelf of a teak wall unit, I remember the Laugh-In set’s psychedelic swirls and mod flowers, but most of all, the funny women.

There was Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann with her [Read more...]

Sister Wives (Without the Mister)

When my son’s soccer coach called from practice, I figured I must be late for pickup. Instead, our conversation went something like this:

Coach: Kai and Evan collided during practice and he’s complaining that his ribs hurt.

Me: Which one?

Coach: Which rib?

Me: No, which kid?

Coach: Your son. That’s why I’m calling you and not Evan’s mom.

Me: Oh, of course. I’ll be right over.

This little exchange made me laugh and reminded me that my Sister Wives approach [Read more...]

eMOMicons

Given the modern family’s busy lifestyle, who has time for words? If you want better communication with the kids, just text, tweet, or Facebook these emoticons for moms: eMOMicons. Finally, your kids will get the message.

Look at Me When I’m Talking to You

(  ‘}<<< {‘  )

Watch Your Language

(>_<)#!%

Go to Bed

(=_=)

Don’t Act Like You Don’t Know What I’m Talking About

(?_?)

Give Grandma a Kiss

(  ‘} (^0_0^)

Feed the Cat

=^_^=

Leave Your Brother Alone

(>_<) (‘;’)

Take Off Those Headphones

d(-_-)b

Because I Said So

(^^o^^)

What eMOMicons would you add?

 

This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.

My Hometown

When I skipped in my denim overalls with the safety-pinned strap from my small, somewhat diverse private school to my new town’s public junior high, the transition wasn’t pretty. On the first day, the biggest obstacles weren’t social or academic but mechanical: cracking the code of my locker combination and covering books with advanced origami folding techniques before the dawn of the book sock.

Within a few weeks, I would think of the locker and book-cover challenges with nostalgia—however much they had made me sweat—as a group of 8th grade girls surrounded me to ask why I had called their friend a “f*#%ing whore.” I had no idea who these girls were or exactly what the phrase meant, but the fact that I wasn’t in my version of Kansas anymore was painfully clear. Like the book sock, anti-bullying legislation or even awareness didn’t exist, so as far as I knew, this was my problem to solve.

I became less naïve about the ways of middle school as the months passed, but this didn’t help me much in 8th grade when a case of mistaken identity put me in the crosshairs of the girl who sat directly in front of me in homeroom. It wasn’t me but a friend of mine who had denied her a piece of gum back in 7th grade, and now she wanted blood instead of Bazooka. She’d regularly turn around to say in a menacing whisper how she was going to beat me up after school. She never did, but the surges of fear still packed a punch. [Read more...]

What Would Lincoln Do?

Lincoln is inarguably one of the most important people in history, but not until I watched Spielberg’s Lincoln with my 9-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter did I fully recognize him as a personal hero and role model.

Although Lincoln isn’t a biography, it gives us a round picture of the president, father, husband, and man that Lincoln was. The movie is an epic but deeply personal portrayal of Lincoln’s process of getting the 13th Amendment passed to abolish slavery as the Civil War was ending.

Spielberg’s Lincoln may not be the first movie you think of for family viewing. Your kids (and you, if you’re like me) may be confused by some of the details of the political process and the various players in it. But the significance of Lincoln’s words and deeds transcend those details, giving you a gut-level experience of good and right.

It struck me that we were given principles to live by in Lincoln’s example, and now we can ask ourselves, what would Lincoln do?

Listen to and fundamentally respect everyone without suffering fools gladly.

While guarding his boundaries, Lincoln gave reasonable time and consideration to all people without regard for differences like status, position, race, and gender.

Don’t bend to the will of a group that thinks it knows more than you do but doesn’t.

After thoughtful consideration of the opinions of his cabinet, Lincoln appropriately exerted his authority to pursue passage of the 13th Amendment.  It never would have happened otherwise.

Don’t give up your singleness of purpose even in the face of the seemingly impossible.

The odds were overwhelmingly stacked against convincing Representatives opposed to the 13th Amendment to vote yes. Hired political hands won some with political favors. Lincoln himself quietly converted the rest with a personal moral appeal.

Know when the ends justify the means, and when they don’t.

When the possibility of Confederate delegates in Washington there to end the war nearly stopped the vote on the 13th Amendment, Lincoln crafted a note to the House that was technically true (the delegates were not actually in the city) but strategically deceptive (they’d be on their way at his signal). There are only certain times when the ends justify the means, and Lincoln knew how to discern that.

Take time for the story, especially if it’s funny. [Read more...]