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
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
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!