I think it’s safe to say he was mad.

The subject: making him do his homework.

His take: You don’t want me to be happy! You don’t even want me to be your son! As you can tell, the threshold of five-year-old irrationality had already been steamrolled at this point. He was teary and red-faced as his big bully of a mother sighed and continued unloading our always-overfilled dishwasher.

And that’s when it came to me: The Bowl.

My husband has, over the length of our marriage, been demonstrating a rather fine art of pressure relief in our home: silliness. He is a master at this and has an incredible ability to use some crazy wisecrack to turn my brooding into side-aching, doubled-over-with-laughter moments of delight.

In light of this, I removed the mixing bowl from the dishwasher’s lower rack, swallowed my dignity, and placed the bowl squarely over my head. “I understand that you don’t want to do your homework. I do not negotiate with terrorists.”

He crossed his arms and screwed up his face. The Valiant Struggle Against Laughter was clearly in process. My two-year-old daughter was loving it. “I like your hat!” she squealed, clapping her hands. My four-year-old said I looked like a gardener, which at this point I am still attempting to understand.

Now, part of the fine art of silliness in our home as a stress-management technique requires that:

a) it is not used as refusal to deal with reality and/or a child’s heart issue;

b) it is not used in a way that cheapens a family member’s feelings; and

c) the user maintains the intuition and sense to know when to quit.

I believe The Bowl passed inspection.

My son was soon chasing me around the kitchen, attempting to knock off the bowl — the heightened tension in the room all but evaporated. And I simply re-employed the tactic whenever he, in technical terms, qualified as just being a turkey.

I’d like to broaden my skills in silliness to reboot the environment at our house every once in awhile; it does beat yelling in frustration.  Sadly, I have no pictures of myself and The Bowl. Maybe next time, ladies.

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