Written by our son-in-law, Pastor Dwayne Piper, father of 4 adorable children:
Driving on our way to the polls early this morning, our family was enjoying the beauty of a moderate frost that had turned everything under ankle height a shimmering silver. The chilly morning air seemed to simply whisper of peace and solitude, serenity and purpose.
The small county roads seemed to be more or less still slumbering, blissfully heedless of the myriad of automobiles that would soon roll over their endless surfaces. Even trees and shrubs lining the highway seemed somehow all poised to endure the new seasonal morning chill. The van was warm inside, after running the heater on “afterburner” for a bit; and everyone seemed warm and quietly thoughtful.
It was not long before we rode past a small country church along the way. The main sanctuary was a white structure with stained glass windows, and the auxiliary buildings were brick with white trim. I, driving, kept glancing over towards it, giving it more attention than I normally do, since the magic of the morning made the little building seem extraordinarily picturesque. It must have attracted the attention of most of us in the van, as I soon realized.
However, I never even thought twice about how that, next door to the little church, as is common with many churches, was a significantly sized graveyard. Such is a normal specter for an adult, but nothing is average to the eyes and mind of a child. We had barely driven past the church and my mind barely begun to drift onto my next mental topic…, whatever it was.
Suddenly I had my attention riveted back to that little church and its graveyard, though now well out of sight, by our second-born son, 4 year old, Austen. From the far back seat of the van exploded a tiny but noticeably concerned voice: “Did awl dose people in dat chuwch DIE?!”
A few hanging seconds of silence passed, as Kristen and I at first wondered if we had heard correctly. We glanced at each other, with looks that said, “Did he just say what we thought he said?” Upon an equally knowing look of confirmation to each other, we both burst into abundant parental laughter*–I mean, really hearty laughter!
I was still quite preoccupied with laughter when my wife, still laughing also but with a keener sense of hearing to her credit, heard our oldest son Bryant protest, “I don’t think it’s funny!” Out of respect for his feelings, we both did our best to suppress our joviality over our second-born’s sincere and cute yet hilarious question. Aww, here is our first-born actually taking up for and feeling sympathy for his younger brother–a quality we were tickled to see arise!
Speaking of tickled however, we couldn’t suppress it forever; and both of us burst into a quieter but just as heartfelt laughter once again. I tossed my head halfway back over my shoulder, still keeping my eyes on the road but trying to project my voice over the seats and other children between me and my eldest: “Bryant, I know you don’t understand now perhaps why it’s funny; but one day, when you are a parent, you will!” We did express pleasure to Bryant for his sympathy, however. I suppose we should have taken a moment of silence for that entire church, too…. Oh, sorry! Just couldn’t help it! 🙂
*-“Parental Laughter” [puh-ren-tl laf-ter] – Noun:
Often involuntary laughter at things usually cute but not even always necessarily funny, sometimes thought to be attributed to a slight case of non-medical insanity. Though impossible to prevent and highly challenging to treat, it is sometimes far too easy to diagnose. Symptoms can include excessive or even illogical laughter at things one would have never laughed at before becoming a parent. Causes could include, most notably, late night feeding schedules, incessantly open mouths, jelly-covered fingers, dirty diapers, mud-covered feet, sweet in-motion leg hugs that shatter adult balance, toy-covered floors in the dark of night–and plenty of sweet adoring love (which probably accounts for the laughter as opposed to other forms of expression). Those most afflicted by this incurable yet contented condition are usually parents of small children, but can also spread to others nearby on occasion–provided a decent amount of actual humor exists in the situation, outside of just the parent’s perspective.