Friday, April 07, 2006

I met my friend, Terry, when we lived across the street from one another, and were both home with our young children. She had a two-year-old and a newborn, I had a one-year-old. We went on lots of walks, drank a lot of coffee, and told each other the stories of our lives. In the six short months we were neighbors, we knew everything there was to know about one another.
Unfortunately, her family moved to Colorado, then New York and finally Philadelphia. With each change in address I flew off to visit. Terry was with me the day I took the pregnancy test to learn I was pregnant with Wil. She was with me when I brought Wil, as a screaming, inconsolable infant, and we tried to "Ferberize" him. She has been with me through many difficult periods in the last eleven years, and I have been with her. We know each other inside and out, there are no secrets, no skeletons, nothing we don't know about each other. Or so I thought.
In February I again flew out to visit. We went for pedicures one day, and laughed our heads off during the side-by-side process. All of a sudden, on my right periphery, I noticed something I'd never noticed before. There, on her left foot, sat four toes. Where the pinky toe should be, there was only foot, no toe.
"Where the hell is your left pinky toe?" I demanded.
"I don't have one!" she responded, stating the obvious.
"Why not?"
"The motorcycle accident, remember?"
I didn't remember. I didn't remember because of the one million hours we'd spent talking, never once had the motorcycle story come up. Long story short, she took her first motorcycle ride with a total stranger, no helmet, and being Terry, bossed the experienced driver around, causing a crash that landed four people in the hospital, and her toeless.
"Do I get a 10% discount?" she asked the pedicurist, dead pan. "I ask that every time, they never give it to me. Worse yet, they don't even think it's funny!"
Of all the great things I love about Terry, her humor is number one. She has been able to make my laugh over the most horrendous situations. Her best gift yet, though, was teaching me to laugh with my kids.
I'll never forget going to visit her in Rye, New York. Her children were young, only one and three, I think. She made mealtimes special. She and the kids sat at the table together for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When her husband was home, he joined them. Even with a toddler and one kid in a high chair, that time together was fun. She laughed and teased with her kids. When her husband came home one night I heard him ask her, "So, how was the day around here?" "We had a lot of laughs." was her reply.
"A lot of laughs," I thought to myself, "when was the last time I described a day at home with my kids in those terms?"
Since then I've consciously changed my attitude and parenting style. I've made an effort to bring humor to some of our darker days. I've tried to teach my kids to be funny, and to think funny.
Oh sure, they'll have plenty of time "on the leather", working out their issues with me to a shrink someday, but I hope they'll always be able to say, "We had a lot of laughs, too."


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