Early in our marriage, the story goes that in the middle of the night I rolled over to my husband and whispered earnestly, "You know what I love?"
And slightly startled, he said, "Um, no. What?" Maybe he was thinking I would say, You. Or something about the little baby, our firstborn son, nestled between us in his boppy pillow while the apnea and pulse ox monitor lights blinked their reassuring signals--all is well.
"Comedy," I replied, deadpan, and I went back to sleep. This was relayed to me the following morning.
This might seem obvious, or at the very least, out of nowhere. Who doesn't love to laugh? It's true that I don't remember saying it, but I do remember where the sentiment came from. I had suffered a bad dream, following our pre-bedtime viewing of the latest episode of The Sopranos--I'm pretty sure it was the one where they beat the stripper to death. And I had decided, as I was falling asleep that night, that I was done watching things that made me sick to my stomach, and I would take care to avoid shows and movies that included man's inhumanity to man, (or woman, or child.) I also decided I wanted the TV out of our bedroom.
I wanted more things in my life that made me laugh. This was coming on the heels of September 11th and nearly losing our son soon after his birth, when it felt like we had done a lot of crying. I have stood by this proclamation in the years since. I have put accalimed books like The Kite Runner down because though I have read the summary and reviews and am sure it is a powerful and important story, I saw where it was taking me, and knew I didn't want that imagery in my head. It means most movies I see are pre-screened by loved ones who know my threshold. I stopped watching ER after they vividly depicted the genocide atrocities in Africa.
It doesn't mean I don't stay abreast or ignore current events--it doesn't mean I'm an ostrich when it comes to suffering or the horrific things happening in the world. I subscribe to change.org and follow the cases and speak out against unjust or inhumane situations. (I only wish my continued daily hoodie wearing could be recognized as my ongoing protest for Trayvon, but it's also how I always dress, so it probably isn't noticed.) It is not that I don't care about wrongdoing or evil. But in my entertainment life, in those brief moments when I am not working or mothering or writing or running or digging around outside growing things, I want to be entertained, and I want to laugh.
So I was delighted when someone forwarded me this hysterical YouTube, the sixth episode of the Kid History series. I watched and laughed, and dashed to the bathroom before I peed my pants, and watched it again. Since last weekend, I have probably watched it fifty times, and shared it with everyone I can think of who will love it as much as I do. The other morning, I woke up a little down, and watched it on my phone before I got out of bed, just so I could start out the day laughing. Though I have already noted it on my Chandra Hoffman, Author page on Facebook and tweeted about it, I thought I'd write a quick post in its honor in case there are a few blog followers who haven't seen it yet. Watch it. Wait, if you're a woman of a certain age, who has maybe had a few kids, go to the bathroom, pee first, and then watch it.
Why are these so funny? I've watched them all by now (and I'll confess that I've even googled 'the Roberts family' and okay, yes, also 'is Richard Sharrah single?') for the story behind the story, but Episode Six is definitely the most hilarious and benefits from the best editing and comedic timing. Maybe it's extra funny to me because I've tried to pull off 'perfectly normal pancakes'. The other night, based on some recipes in the Jessica Seinfeld Deceptively Delicious Cookbook, I made a much-anticipated, colorful dinner--green eggs! pink pancakes! blue milk! I puréed the spinach and beets to color the breakfast food while the kids were at playdates, and then left the food coloring out on the counter after I dyed their milk, so they could all see I had just, you know, been going crazy with the food dye. That there was no reason why anything should taste even remotely 'dross'. I went a little overboard with the beets in the pancakes and even J and I agreed you could really taste the earth in them. The green eggs went over okay with some parmesan on top. But our adult giggles gave us away and as soon as we let the kids in on our deception, everything ended up in poor Sampson's bowl.
I've heard people sing the praises of these Kid History videos because they are 'clean'. The Roberts' family is Mormon and Episode One took an LDS film festival by a landslide. But that's not exactly why I love them. Sure, it's great to be able to share these with my kids instead of just snickering and closing the laptop and muttering, "Nothing," to their "What's so funny?!" But the clean nature of them isn't their appeal. I find plenty of humor in things that can't be shared with the kids. What is so funny here is the juxtaposition of big burly men and little tiny voices, the perfect capturing of the dynamics of family life and the priceless, authentic phrases of those cherubic little monkeys.
These have given me endless belly laughs this week, and heightened my appreciation for just closing my eyes and listening to the cuteness of my kids and my nieces and their pals, even when they say things like, "UGH! I'm going to come over there and-and punch you, like I always keep doing!"