Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Adar II 5765 - April 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Housekeeping Humor
by Adina Mayer

I stared, panic-stricken, at the incredible mess before me. It seemed to stare back, as if handing me a personal invitation to tackle it immediately. I accepted the cordial invitation, though reluctantly, I must admit. Suddenly, a drift of laughter swept over me as I observed the funny sight, a joke to behold.

A growing mound of laundry hid the tattered couch. Only a few strewn shoes stuck out from under the base, together with various trinkets and lost game pieces. The floor was graced with dust particles, food crumbs, bread crusts, mismatched dirty socks, and other such treasures. The sinks were piled high with dishes and the dining room table was cluttered with books and odds and ends. The funniest sight of all was at the breakfast table where my five children sat on five clean chairs, thus sheltered from the large milk puddle below their feet. The table was decorated with an array of scattered corn flakes, bran flakes, and fruity pebbles.

My natural instinct was to shout, to tell them to run and get dressed so that they could make the school bus and I, frazzled as I was, could get back to my senses and turn this wreck into tip-top shape. On second thought, they were so adorable. They were just being children. They were too cute, too lovable to be subjected to yelling, and too happy to be exposed to tears so early in the day. So I pasted a smile on my face and just joined in the laughter.

The rest of the morning routine passed in a jiffy. The morning preparations could not be labeled monotonous since each step was like a comedy in its own right. I want to share how the morning went when I peppered the recipe with laughter, smiles and optimism. Some may have labeled my morning totally crazy, but I'd just call it pleasantly busy. The miracle of the mess was that it ended peacefully; everyone made the bus on time and most importantly, with a positive attitude in tow.

Here are a few excerpts from my morning: As I said before, a pool of milk was on the floor, a serious one, thus the origin of the pool title. But instead of screaming at the poor child who had carelessly sloshed the milk into his cereal, making it spill onto the floor, I took a deep breath and smiled. I reevaluated the scene and thought he'd probably done it by mistake. It was quite humorous to watch the children rise, one by one, and begin wading through the white water. Calmly, I handed them each a shmatte and told them it was time to clean up the pool so that the fish could get to school on time. As they mopped up, I proceeded with a science lesson, telling them how fish really swim in groups called a school, and they did the work with good humor, throwing in their own jokes and comments.

Just as they were finished, one child went to get a glass of water, choosing what was close at hand in the dining room, but she lost her grip and that exclusive crystal fell to the floor, shattering into too many pieces to count. This was too dangerous for the children to mop up, so I quickly got a broom and dustpan, while shooing them all off to finish getting ready for school.

The comedy continued as they joined hands in the other room, singing Simon tov umazel tov" at the top of their lungs, apparently remembering vaguely from the few weddings they had attended that a broken glass elicited a loud mazel tov. They followed up with merry dancing. How could I get upset when they were so happy? I broke into the circle and joined in, myself. The glass was in the garbage already, so why not humor them? After a couple of rounds, I reminded them that they could continue their Adar post-Purim celebrations after school.

Only ten minutes before the bus was to arrive, I heard a call of distresss. "My shoe's stuck," cried my daughter in dismay. I turned it to laughter at the sight that greeted me when I entered her room. There she stood in the middle of the room, a meter's worth of taffy trailing behind her. Each attempt to detach the sticky stuff with her other shoe simply resulted in an elognated piece of candy. The taffy was getting long and longer, albeit thinner and thinner, but the time allotment was getting shorter. I cut the taffy with a scissors, leaving me with a sticky floor, a dirty scissors, and the rest of the mess previously described. Five minutes to go.

My daughter thanked me and ran off to tell the others what had happened. Two minutes to the bus, I sent them down, all smiles. I wondered if they'd be surprised by the jellyfish candies I'd stuck in their lunchbags at the last moment. They weren't chometz but I'd be happy to get rid of them now, anyway, and the kids would be reminded of fish at school... My school was off to school.

They made the bus with a minute to spare, in great humor. I was left with the mess. I thought the job would be hard, but my positivity sped up the work. I was so much happier that day when I was patient with my children. I had learned to roll — with laughter — at the punches, or as they say in Israel, at the punctures, which hadn't flattened me as they would have on an ordinary such day. With a lighter heart, I breezed through the work, exercising my self control here and there, at the beginning.

I sang out loud as I ran around the house, like in a comedy routine, getting the many jobs done. The house was presentable within two hours. The socks were thrown in the laundry bin, the shoes paired, the clean clothing folded, the tables cleared, the dishes scrubbed and the beds made. I even had time to bake a cake for the promised continuation of the wedding.

I looked forward to the children's arrival. I knew they'd be thrilled with the cake and they'd see that I really fulfill my word. And I had learned an important lesson: A little humor goes a long way!


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