Friday, December 2, 2011

Laughter in Literature

I read to all of my children before bed. 

Yes, I'm bragging.

FACT:   There are some nights when I race through a book or chapter so I can be done in time before Grey's Anatomy comes on.

FACT:   There are times when I do not read with expression as my third grade teacher, Mrs. Schurch, so wonderfully taught me how to do.

FACT:   On occasion, if one of my children has a question about the story, I tell them we can talk about it in the morning over breakfast.

FACT:   The first child to bed usually gets the best of me and by the time child number three is tucked in, they are sometimes lucky to get a high-five before I turn out the lights.

With all of that said, I love to read and oftentimes, during the course of my busy days, I do not have time to read much more than a magazine article while I'm on the treadmill early in the morning.  So, reading to my children is a gift to myself too, not just for them.

I've read where "experts" say to read aloud to your children as long as they will sit still for it.  I've also witnessed, first-hand, the inspiring conversation that can spontaneously erupt when I've left them in a suspenseful moment in a story and they are begging me to read one more page or one more chapter or in Owen's more book! 

That they are thirsty for more of something like this - I am proud.

So, enough of the serious, deep-thinking.  It's Friday after all and we need to keep things light as we slide into the weekend.

Last night, I was reading to Owen before bed and I admit, I was feeling a bit punchy.  We had gone to get our Christmas tree last night and by the time we got the lower branches trimmed, the tree in the stand, the lights strung and the Shop Vaccing done...

What?  You guys don't have the annual tradition of Shop Vaccing your living room after bringing in your Christmas tree?  Oh, you artificial tree people are really missing out on great fun!

I digress.

So, it's a school night and it's late and the tree still is not decorated and showers are to be had by the three juveniles in our house and it's rush and rush and rush around the house.

I had already instructed Owen to pick out which book he wanted me to read to him.  I went in his room and realized he'd picked out the book we read the night before.  Now, typically, I'll encourage him to pick a different one, just to keep things more interesting.  But he pleaded and gave such a convincing argument for reading it two nights in a row.  How could I deny my six year old one last piece of harmless enjoyment for the day?

The book was a new one I had reserved from the library.

Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long is a wonderful story with so many hidden lessons to be learned.

Here's the long and the short of it: 

There is a bull on a farm and all of the other farm animals are scared of him.
He is in his own little secluded pen snorting and glaring at the others.
A tornado is approaching the farm and everyone runs for cover.
Otis, the tractor, hears a fearful wailing in the distance.

And that is all I am going to tell you about this story.  If you want to find out what happens next,
read it yourself!

So, you're probably wondering where the laughter and humor can be found in a story about farm animals, farm implements and farm tornadoes that appeared to take place somewhere in Oklahoma.

Upon reading the passage about the bull snorting and glaring and flaring his nostrils, Owen asked me what it meant to flare your nostrils.  So I showed him.  And then he proceeded to practice some nostril flaring of his own. 

I cannot the recall the last time I laughed so hard.  Perhaps it was the late hour, the crazy day I'd had or the list of what I need to get done that was racing through my head.  But I truly believe that moment was a wonderful act from God.  The gift of laughter to bring back my sanity...although, at the time, I probably sounded pretty insane from all of the laughter.

Sit down and read a good book, either by yourself, or if you have children, by all means, do it with them.  It's a gift for all of you!


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