Last Sunday was one of those over-scheduled days that defies the phrases “relaxing weekend” and “day of rest”. My younger girls had a number of obligatory activities including soccer league picture day and a very good friend’s birthday party. Our team picture was scheduled for 12:50pm and the birthday party began at 1pm. Traveling 2.5 miles from the soccer field to the birthday party location should have been no problem, and I let the party girl’s mother know we’d be a few minutes late.
Unfortunately that day, a massive multi-car accident on the freeway bisecting our community resulted in picture day getting thrown off-schedule as well as complete congestion of all surface roads.
So as the girls and I sat in gridlock at 1:40, less than two miles from our destination but still 1/2 hour away, I could feel I was about to snap.
OK, sometimes when I’m feeling really frazzled – it usually has to do with too many things to do and bad traffic – I can, ahem, yell at my children. And that afternoon, as I pondered my impotence and fretted over the next five things I had to do after the birthday party and listened to the girls’ running dialog of concern over missing the party entirely, I could feel my temperature rising. I knew I could turn around and yell, which would shock my children into silence, although probably result in one or both of them crying. Or I could just break down and cry myself. Or….
“Hey girls,” I said, “I’m so frustrated about this horrible traffic and being late for the party. I have an idea that will make us feel better.”
I had their attention.
“I’m going to tell you what it is, but we can’t do it until the light turns green and we start moving. We can’t do it right now with these other cars right beside us.”
I had them hooked.
“OK, I’m going to count to three. When I get to three, we’re all going to scream at the top of our lungs. Scream as long and loud as you can. But just scream once, OK? Wait until I start counting, and then really go for it. Do you think that will make us feel better?”
Passenger B said, with a smile in her voice, “I already feel better just talking about it!”
The light turned green and I said “OK girls, here we go. One…two…three!” I screamed. I screamed so long and so hard that my ears rung and my head ached and my throat felt a little sore. Damn, it felt good! Passenger B screamed even longer than me and then threw in two additional screams for good measure! Passenger A just laughed.
“Whew, that was great! Did that make you feel better girls?”
Passenger B said “Yeah, that was awesome!” Passenger A said “I couldn’t scream, I was laughing so hard!”
“Should we do it one more time?”
We did, we screamed our lungs out. And then we laughed. And we all felt better and the traffic didn’t irritate me as much because nothing NOTHING beats laughing with my girls.Postscript: We got to the party an hour late. As soon as we arrived and my girls hugged their friend, all the lateness and worrying was behind them. They had a fantastic time and the party girl’s mom gave me a hall pass to do a little shopping before retrieving them.