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.
Janel Breitenstein graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University and began her career with NavPress, where she worked on The Message Bible. After having four children she resumed her professional career (around her momlife) by serving as a writer for FamilyLife. In January of 2012 Janel and her husband, John, packed up their family of six and moved to Uganda to serve with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), an organization that focuses on poverty relief and development, providing structural design and construction management for Christian organizations in the third world. Join us as we all learn first hand, through Janel’s posts, what it’s like to go from suburban America, to answer God’s call in Africa!