Oh Elaine – always up to something; causing a raucous, the catalyst for conflict and catastrophe; such shenanigans!
My dad introduced me to comedy. He loved Lenny Bruce, Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Gilda Radner, everything SNL and then some! One night when I was in high school, my dad yelled,
“Jess, get down here, you have to watch this right now!”
That was the beginning of our love affair with Seinfeld, Larry David and the whole gang! Some of my favorite memories were of us eating very stale black licorice drops and laughing our heads straight off! He especially loved Elaine’s character and always said she was, “Such a nudnik.” My dad thought everything was funny or absolutely not funny – there was no grey area in the funny department with him. There were a few things I remember that he did not find funny at all.
I was kicked out of a Montessori preschool.
The classroom was on ground level and I guess I decided I was going to leave through the window. Though there was no real threat of imminent physical danger because there were soft lilies and organic parsley close by to catch my fall, after my third attempt to escape my father was called in and we were asked to leave and given clear guidelines that I wasn’t allowed back. My dad was not laughing.
In kindergarten I threw a fork from a doll house at a peer of mine that barely missed his cornea, leaving a slight scar on his right temple. My parents had to leave work to get me and my dad was not laughing.
In first grade I got caught stealing Twinkies out of a girl’s lunch and once again my father had to leave his dental practice to scoop up his daughter. NOT laughing.
Years later when I was visiting him in Florida my dad was watching me chase my youngest child while he continuously tried to catch a very perturbed Great Egret. Once I finally grabbed a handful of shorts and body parts I turned to see AND hear my father laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Tears were streaming down his face; he was hunched over in his favorite leather chair holding his gut and cackling like a hyena.
“I wish I could have taken a picture of that! You better watch out with that one – he may decide to climb out of a window some day.” He winked and then scooped up his grandson.
Just recently I was sitting on the couch enjoying one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, The Sponge. After all this time and so many reruns I still love watching Elaine hem and haw and drive herself crazy over whether or not her boyfriend of choice is sponge worthy; it always cracks me up!During the commercials I scrolled through all the pictures I took from the first day of school on my phone and started to think about my dad and about what it is that makes something really funny and about all the reasons why we, as parents, choose to post some pictures and not others. Why do we click and post for one smile and not the other? There are so many moments worthy of pausing time, even for just a second.
The pictures I took of my kids did not even closely resemble all of the personality and perseverance it took to get those three lined up on our front porch before the bells rang. I looked deeply into the photo, into my children’s eyes, and realized the hour before that picture was taken was the true gift – or punishment – depends on your perspective! The sweat, the grit, the angst, the nerves and frustration that child number three put only Hershey kisses in his lunch or the madness of our new puppy potentially destroying the only copy I had of a receipt needed to retain a chrome book – those are the moments worthy of our attention and memories because we would not get through the whole alphabet without starting at letter A.
When I was four years old my dad probably thought his future parenting goals were going to be paying my bail or retracting me out of a juvenile detention center and when I was thirty-four he thought my Montessori getaway was the funniest thing in the world.
It’s hard not to panic when our kids struggle and face fears. Watching our children make mistakes and pay the price is one of the hardest jobs a parent has to do; but, Maybe what makes something so funny and all around WORTH IT are all those things that happen between ‘I love you’ and ‘You’re grounded!’