|By Suzanne Mazer Stewart|
Editor's note: Suzanne Mazer Stewart is the author of previous FROG POND columns. The Herald is glad to welcome Suzanne, her wit, sense of humor and inspiration back.
I've read a lot of silly anecdotes and humorous articles in my day. I've witnessed enough laughable moments and heard enough jokes to make even the toughest, crabbiest old coot smile on tax day. But you know what I've found to produce the most hilarity when you least expect it? Life. Yep, Life with a capital "L" in front of it. That thing we do every day we wake up breathing. That thing that sneaks up on us when we least expect it. It has a way of just creating the oddest, funniest moments, at the oddest, most inconvenient times. Just when you think things can't go wrong, they probably do.
When you think things can't get much worse, they usually can. And when you think you may never find the strength, the will nor the desire to so much as turn up one corner of your mouth in response to something others find sidesplitting, well, you surprise yourself and do it anyway. Yep, Life's just funny that way.
Take me and my life, for instance. A year ago I was living in a little house by the 'Pond, with Daddy Frog and 6 kids and Sam the smooth-headed dog and one million frogs on a dead end road in the middle of nowhere. Oh, Life produced enough humorous moments to keep the dinner conversation and at least one newspaper column going at a fairly steady pace.
Then, Life got really funny. Daddy Frog decided he needed a newer, fresher, blonder Lady Frog for his lily pad. Yes, the fairy tale prince turned out to be nothing but a warty old toad. So, here I am now, with just 2 kids, back at home with Mama. It's a much smaller house, in the middle of town, and there's more animals, if you can believe it. It's more like a zoo on most days, actually. And it's funny, if you stop and think about it.
I used to worry about what would happen as my Mama got older. Where could she live? Certainly not with us. There was barely enough room in that little house by the 'Pond for all of us. Nursing homes are no place for my Mama. She'd either get kicked out or be running the place in a month. Well, now I don't have to worry about that anymore, do I? Nope, now I just have to worry about wiping my feet, not putting my shoes on the couch and making my bed every morning. They say you can't ever go home again, but that's not so.
I may be 30-mumble-mumble years old, but Mama is still Mama and even though I'm a Mama now, she still rules the roost! I've gone from a real-life "Walton's Mountain" to "Mama's Family," minus the beer. (Oh, not that I haven't thought about having one every now and then, but Mama doesn't allow drinking in the house.)
I used to worry that my kids wouldn't know their grandparents that well, living so far from them. Well, gee wiz, now all they got to do is wake up in the morning and walk down the stairs. And as any parent knows, your parents and your children will gang up on you to get what they want, leaving you defenseless against the whining, the guilt-trips and the pouting, pleading expressions - and that's just Mama. When the kids join in, forget it, I'm a goner. Oh, and if you've never had every single embarrassing moment of your Life regaled to your dear children in seemingly endless sessions, causing never-ending rounds of ribbing for things you'd long forgotten, well then, you don't know what you're missing!
Then there's the pets. Anytime you have animals in close proximity to humans, you'll find something to at least smile about. Goodness knows, the four-legged inhabitants of Frog Pond sure gave us food for frivolity. The fuzzy city dwellers that now share our humble home do much the same. We left poor smooth-headed Sam behind, only to be blessed with Molly the Mutt and Scooter the Jumpin' Jack Russell.
Scooter is guilty of false advertising, truth be known. There's a good-sized knot on that dog's head, but a small-sized intelligence underneath it. Why, just last week he fell right off the front porch and bump-bumped clear down the steps on his tail, just because he was trying to avoid stepping in the snow. I now know what a dog looks like when he's completely dazed and confused. Oh, and in another display of canine genius Scooter is not one bit shy about barking at the Great Danes that live up the street when they go by on their evening walk. (They eye him with either utter disdain or with wonder at what he might taste like without ketchup, I'm not just sure which.)
He is, however, terrified of Mama's cats! Her de-clawed, 10-pounds-soaking-wet female cats at that. Watching those same cats go fishing in the goldfish bowl after the kids' Nemo and Cleo is another source of endless amusement. Well, maybe not for the young'ens, but for the rest of us, you can certainly be sure. You ever see a cat try to look innocent while sitting beside the fish bowl soaked to the shoulder? Funny stuff, that.
Let's not forget that I am still a Mama, albeit of only two instead of six, but a Mama nonetheless. You can't be a Mama without young'ens around and where there's young'ens, there's laughter and a source of blessed joy. Of course, there's a source of never-ending conflict as well, but even that, too, can be funny sometimes. Here in the little house on Green Street, they have to share a room. Now, if you'll cast your memory back to the days on the 'Pond, that means one small boy and his bossy older sister.
The other day he came to me all upset and crying because she had told him if he didn't leave her alone, he wasn't going to make it to be 6 years old. He got her back by following her around with his face on her arm, saying, "Watch it! I've got my eye on you!" The other night that same small boy came into the kitchen, after being called for supper, asking his usual, "Mama, what's for dinner?" I jokingly replied as I held up their bowls of less-than favorite vegetable soup, "Stewed skunk!" His sister, coming hard on his heels, responded to this news with her best 8 year-old-girly-girl whine, "But Mama, you know we like our skunk fried!"
A friend of mine pointed out that with a wit like mine, and a penchant for laughing at myself and my circumstances, well, my kids couldn't help but catch on, could they? Ah, well, another generation rises up to challenge its elders!
Yes, it's been a year of big changes. It's been a year of hard adjustments. It's been a year of discontent and discouragement, disappointments and downfalls. But, before you lament what could be perceived to be our sad, sorry fate, just remember, we're still laughing. After all, if you can't laugh, why bother living? Life will give you plenty of opportunities for smiles, giggles and guffaws, especially when you least expect it, to more than make up for its shortcomings. Yep, it sure is funny that way.