Monday, November 11, 2013

In the Manner of the Adverb--Hilariously, Compassionately, Contentedly

Today after homeschool and chores were done, we played "In the manner of the adverb." My thanks to Renae Kingsley for teaching me this game!

I could explain the rules, but you'll pick them up better in context. Let me just describe a few rounds and you'll get it.

I left the room while Eric and Daniel conferred. When they were ready, I came back in. "Eric," I said. "I want you to tap dance in the manner of the adverb."

It was comical to see him trying to tap dance. It was hard, though, to tell how much of the wild gesticulation was due to his mysterious adverb, and how much was due to his inexperience.

Next I asked Daniel to pretend to cook dinner in the manner of the adverb. He walked into the kitchen, picked up various ingredients lying around, and mimed dumping them into a pot. He made a point of mentioning that the pot was dirty, then "threw in" stovetop stuffing, cheesecake mix, various spices, empty jars formerly containing alfredo sauce, pieces of trash...

Finally, I asked both boys to pretend to dig holes in the manner of the adverb. Eric's "hole" was more of a "trench" that careened wildly all over the living room. Daniel comically mimed tossing dirt high into the air, and then flailing about with his shovel when the dirt landed in his face. (I'm pretty sure he "hit" Eric with his imaginary shovel a few times, but Eric didn't react appropriately. Tsk.)

After those three prompts, I had to guess the adverb. I tried "crazily," "randomly," and "wildly" to no avail. If I'd gotten a fourth try, I would have tried "haphazardly." Nope. They stumped me. It turned out their adverb was "untraditionally."

I laughed.

Next Daniel left the room while Eric and I conferred. When Daniel re-entered, he asked me to "build a redstone circuit computer in minecraft in the manner of the adverb." I stood sharply, saluted, and marched over to an imaginary computer screen. "Hmm," I boomed. "Yes, I can see the benefits to having a computer internal to minecraft. We could use it to calculate trajectories. This will require a lot of contract work. It will cost a million dollars and it will be three years late, but the end result will work, mostly. Remember it's vital to national security!"

(I was proud of that improvisation, by the way.)

Next, Daniel turned to Eric. "Eric, tell me what the adverb is, in the manner of the adverb." Eric froze. "You're not allowed to ask me that--" he began, but I pulled him aside. After a whispered consultation in the library in which I coached him, he returned to Daniel, saluted, and said, "Sir. That was an illegal order, sir!" (I wanted him to say "According to the UCMJ", but I figured he wouldn't remember that, alas.)

Finally, Daniel asked both of us to spar in the manner of the adverb. Eric and I began pretending to trade punches, and I started yelling. "You call that a block? You think the enemy will be impressed with your puny efforts, private? Drop and give me twenty push-ups, you miserable excuse for a recruit!"

Daniel said, "I know what you're doing, but I don't know the word for it. It's like you're in the army."

I gave it to him. "The word," I beamed at him, "was 'militaristically.'"

It was fun. Sam ran around, imitating everyone else and getting in the way. Jeff was asleep in the office.

I enjoyed playing with my boys.

Yesterday was hard. It was concurrently Marian's sixth birthday and the yearly kid's program at church.

As I looked at all the cute little girls singing "I am a Child of God" and "Families Can Be Together Forever," I thought "She ought to be up there." I reminded myself that every person has problems in life. Everyone has some heartache, often privately held. He might be facing divorce, addiction, guilt, cancer, infertility, debt, abuse, mental illness. She might be facing a floundering business, a dying parent, an unhappy marriage, a spiritual crisis. If Christ's infinite suffering gave him perfect understanding, surely my lesser griefs can give me expanded empathy for others.

One more reason to be kind to everyone; you never know who is suffering secretly.

Today was better. "You do not betray your sorrow to set it aside for an hour....Remember to take joy." [*1] I have four healthy, brilliant, creative, hilarious boys. Today I played with them. I enjoyed the moment, and then I recorded it for posterity. I chose to be thankful for my blessings, and happy in my circumstances.

In my head, I'm replaying the footage of Eric trying to tap dance "untraditionally." (It looked vaguely like Dick Van Dyke doing "Step in Time" in Mary Poppins.)


[*1 From The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold.]

1 comment:

Renae Kingsley said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for reminding me to focus on the sunshine instead of the heartaches and disappointments. I needed that spot of encouragement today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Hugs!