The world is rich with witticisms, those short, profound observations that all of us wish that we’d said first. But even if you haven’t created an original remark, you can still share briefly stated, wonderful wisdom cobbled together by someone else. Let’s look at life from the beginning and see where it leads us in regard to family life. We’ll focus on laughter because family life too often leaves a person moaning or screaming. Comforting humor can ease pain, but we need to be careful stay within the parameters of polite thoughts. We don’t want to wander into cruel thoughts or remarks, which happens all too often in impolite company and on social media.
Humor is an art, and as G. K. Chesterton cleverly noted, “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.”
“Childhood,” observed nineteenth century journalist Ambrose Bierce, is “The time of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infanthood and the folly of youth – two removes from the sins of adulthood and the remorse of age.”
“The fine art of parenting,” noted some anonymous observer “consists in sleeping when the baby isn’t looking.”
Children tend to grow older, and as another anonymous student of life’s lessons noted, “Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop love for our children before turning them into teenagers.”
If you’re not familiar with my day-to-day observations, I’ll share an insight: Gray hair is genetic. You get it from your children.
Family life has its beautiful moments, too. They are best appreciated by spouses who love and respect each other, and by parents who cherish the individuality of their offspring: “To love is to stop comparing.” Some therapists would be wise to print this essay out and to highlight that line for their clients.
It’s a challenge to define the word family, but popular newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck left her readers laughing long before and after she died. She’d once informed her syndicated readership that “The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”
“The secret of patience,” according to a time-honored wisdom, “is to be doing something productive in the meanwhile.” Think of that as you consider the sadness of the epigram “Parent: the object burning in the window instead of a candle or electric light, when a teenager is late coming home.”
Baseball’s Mickey Mantle once opined about sports that “A team is where a boy can prove his courage, on what he can do himself or what he can contribute to the team’s good. A gang is where a coward goes to hide.” It’s as true of a family life worth life worth living as it is of professional athletics. Something to think about, parents!
Girls of all ages tend to make their family members think a lot. Actor Tommy Lee Jones said “…my mother, my wife, and my daughter are all women, and I like those people. I’m concerned about the issues that they face in their lives. So I’m a feminist, but that’s not all I am.”
The heart and soul of family life is not to slam doors. You just might want to go back inside them.
Consider this: All the members of a family are individual volumes in one book. Be sure to read them again and again. You might find nuggets of wisdom and other wonders too valuable to overlook again.
One more thought: Humans are the only creatures with a 20-21-year childhood. The reason for it is that children have much to learn, and parents are responsible for teaching those lessons lovingly.