I have never laughed so hard... and never needed it so desperately!
Have you ever felt like you just needed a good laugh? Tonight I desperately needed a good laugh, but I didn't even know it.
My job lately has been really stressful. I work in educational administration, and - don't get me wrong! - I love my job. Yet there are days (like today) that are just so hard! Today I faced a couple of conflicts at work that were good and ultimately healthy, but were also extremely difficult to work through and emotionally draining. Despite it being our summer season with no students on campus, somehow I have like 10 times more things on my plate than I can actually accomplish. And to top it all off, one of my good friends that I work with will be leaving tomorrow for a new job. It was a tough day today.
I came home like a zombie, going through the motions of taking care of my two daughters (4 and 6 years old) while my wife ran some errands. Essentially, just feeding them and making sure they didn't pull out each other's hair were my only goals.
My wife gets home with some groceries and can tell immediately that today was challenging. "Hey, girls? Why don't you go in the back room and watch the iPad after dinner?" My daughters needed no further instruction. Off into the back room they went. And then my wife offered to get my dinner together.
With tired but thankful eyes, I looked at my wife and just loved her. Yes, it was a moment.
After zoning out for a half-hour in front of the TV, it was time for our girls to start getting ready for bed. I went into our back bedroom to get the girls started and found them giggling at some goofy YouTube video of two girls making a pizza out of candy.
Maybe my short rest break brought about some new energy. Maybe I subconsciously craved some quality time with my kids. Or maybe I was just so tired that I was a little loopy.
Whatever the reason, I found myself leaping into the air and landing next to them both on the bed. Totally surprised, and a little annoyed at the interruption, they pulled away from my brash advance. But they couldn't escape the tickles.
I was like a ninja. Arms and fingers a blur, darting in and out, looking for unprotected armpits and knee caps. They could not stop my flurry of movement.
They responded with squeals of laughter, shouts of "No! No! No!", but conveniently leaving themselves exposed for another attack when the tickles stopped.
What started as probably a simple show of affection (I usually tire out within a minute or two) escalated into something bigger. I found myself chuckling at their laughter, then giggling, then outright roaring, feeding on their hysterics. As their laughter grew and grew, so did mine.
And then the tables turned: the tickler became the tickled. Both of my daughters began to reach for me, looking for my unprotected armpits and knee caps. With two against one, there was no chance.
Have you ever had a moment when you couldn't stop laughing because someone else was laughing, and they couldn't stop laughing because you were laughing? And the cycle just feeds on itself until you are two quivering puddles on the floor. This was like that.
My stomach was physically hurting - cramping! - because I was laughing so hard. I tried to put a stop to it: "OK. OK. Dad's done. Time to go to bed." But they kept coming! My whole body was shaking and convulsing as my daughters attacked, until finally I just could not physically laugh a chuckle more. And as suddenly as it started, the moment ended.
My girls got off the bed, a bit teary-eyed and wobbly-limbed (like me), and started heading to the bathroom to brush their teeth. "Hey, girls!" I called. "Come back here a sec."
They came back to a huge hug. I pulled their heads in to mine, and whispered, "Thank you... Dad needed that." And I really, really did.
I came to thee as to a friend,
Dearest, to thee I did not send
Tutors, but a joyful eye,
Innocence that matched the sky,
Lovely locks a form of wonder,
Laughter rich as woodland thunder;
That thou might'st entertain apart
The richest flowering of all art.
from "Threnody" by Ralph Waldo Emerson