When I was a kid, I solemnly vowed to myself I would never start a sentence off by prefacing whatever lecture I was about to give with, "When I was a kid "
Most of my sentences possessed the auspicious opening declaration, "When I'm a grown up ..." or "When I have kids ..."
If you feel need to roll your eyes when you see the words, "When I was a kid ..." please stop reading and go clean your room -- and no stuffing it all under the bed.
As I was saying, when I was a kid, I decided that I would definitely do many things differently when I was a grown up and had kiddies of my own.
Take Easter. When I was a kid, Easter was a magical time. I have to hand it to my parents and grandparents. I could always count on a basket chocked full of pastel colored dental decay, fluffy replicas of barnyard creatures and a overgrown chocolate bunny and then -- dread -- I received orders to get dressed for church. These orders were always followed by protest and pleas for mercy on my part. "God could care less what I wear! He made me naked! Besides, I know I'm going to throw up -- do I really have to wear that dress? It makes me itch."
To make things worse, once we were finally seated at church I was forced to endure the old hymns that were, yawn, b-o-r-i-n-g. Then the pastor would talk for like a lot and before I knew it something would strike me funny. Inevitably my grandmother would feel the need to give me the look. In order to accomplish the look, she had to get her mouth all pursed up like she had been eating Screaming Lemon Sour Patch War Heads and as a result her dentures jutted out from under her lips at a strange angle and her right eye got kind of squished up and twitched -- the overall effect was like sitting next to a creature that was some sort of hybrid cross between a bull dog and a rogue pirate.
I was never quite sure if she was going bite me or to force me to walk the plank. I prayed that if she chose the former that I wouldn't need rabies shots and if she choose the latter it would count as a water baptism. I figured God would think that was funny too.
Eventually the official call for prayer requests was announced. I remembered how my mom called this the Sunday Organ Recital, meaning we would hear how everyone's organs were in various states of disrepair. As the members reported on their and other people's aliments I would imagine gall bladders, bunions and livers belting out a few good gospel tunes ... The sheer imagery made me giggle right out loud, which in turn intensified my grandma's expression.
Yes, it was indeed physically possible to intensify the look. I have always suspected, however, that doing this was somehow connected to her hernia operation.
Anyway, while she tried to get me to put a corset on my humor I further imagined her girdle having a single thread let loose and then exploding all over the sanctuary -- KABOOM! -- hysterical! In order to maintain some modicum of decency and thusly avoid post worship penance I practiced slow nasal breathing to calm myself. This never worked as trying to restrain inappropriate laughter tended to have the entirely opposite effect on me and it took me biting my lip to keep me from rolling in the aisle with belly achingly unstoppable fits of hilarity. I had a tendency to snort when I got to this point.
Again grandma would give me the look -- which only convinced me that my only choice was to stop breathing because I knew that I was this close (try to get a visual on grandma measuring out two inches between her hook and her pointer claw) to letting loose of the kind of uproarious, unrestrained laughter that would guarantee the loss of all bodily function and restraint -- I didn't even want to imagine what would happen if I did that ...
Right then and there I decided that when I was a grown up and I had little children of my own I would somehow do it differently. I wasn't sure how but I knew that I would never force my children to wear starchy stuff to church. I would never give them the look when they were amusing themselves and I would never tell an entire room full of people about the inner workings of my bowels. Ever.
As always, after we reviewed the Easter story, the entire event was followed by more food and coffee for the grownups. I remember also deciding that I would never drink coffee nor would I force my children further agony by wasting a half an hour after church visiting with the grownups when I knew my children were anxious to get home and return to the all important task of sorting out all the black jelly beans and stale marshmallow Peeps in order to trade up for anything chocolate -- as long as it did not have a crme filling. Yup, I had my priorities straight.
Next week we will once again celebrate Easter. I will spend much of the week getting ready for the celebration.
There is a good chance that Patrick can expect to see the professor, a mid-sized model of carnal chocolate bliss perched upon a pile of fake plastic grass that's scattered with pastel little bunny droppings -- minus the black bunny scat -- in his basket. Hanging in his closet will be a clean pair of Levi's and crisp white dress shirt minus the starch as I do not iron. Ever.
We will go and sing. We will hear the Easter story again. We will hear the Sunday Organ Recital and we will eventually assume the shampoo position so that we can pray for those we care so much about. After all of this we will hug and visit and I will probably drink a cup of coffee or two.
If, by chance, my son enjoys himself and laughs, I will remember to give him the look that says, "I love you, I am proud of you and yes, you can pull that oh so funny prank on your dad -- and then I will purse my lips ever so slightly and subtly raise my brow as I add,"but not till we get home."
Jacki Michels lives in Soldotna.
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