From PJs to trivia, a little nonsense is good for the soul

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” If Roald Dahl nailed it, then the Schrocks are right up there with the sages.

It had been a long time since we’d done it. So long, in fact, that when we got them out over a recent holiday weekend, a certain small man I know set to giggling and cackling in his pajamas as though it was all new. And for him, it was.

Not having had televisions, Mr. Schrock and I have claimed childhood deprivation and incomplete cultural training because of this sad fact—we grew up without Bugs Bunny.

I heard your collective gasps. It’s true. And that’s why we set about remedying this appalling deficit with the Schrocklets Four.

Call us simple, but here, we find Bugs and his buddies to be a source of endless hilarity. Yosemite Sam, firing both revolvers to express his emotions. Road Runner, always out in front of Wile E. Coyote. Bugs Bunny, outwitting Daffy Duck again. We watch them over and over, laughing every single time at the same old places. Together. In our jammies.

Nonsense, relished. Wisdom. Pajamas. Disparate threads on the face of it. But not for a little PJ laugher who just finished his kindergarten career like that…relishing nonsense.

It’s terribly exciting when you’re six and the teacher says, “Tomorrow is Pajama Day. You can wear your jammies to school.” Eager, you rush home to tell this to your mama who checks with a friend to verify your story. (She doesn’t want to swallow a tall tale without knowing it, see, and send you off that way. Then everyone’s laughing, and the teacher dials her up and says, “Why is your child in his PJs, Mrs. Schrock?” She’s careful like that.)

Once she gets the “yes,” she washes them up the night before so as not to embarrass the family name. The next morning, the first thing you say is, “Where are my jammies?” Not “good morning” or “what’s for breakfast?” Just, “Where are my jammies?” and Mama points you to the dryer. Where you go in headfirst, digging like a gold miner, and Daddy sneaks a picture.

Going to class and working sums in your pajamas is a little bit of nonsense. But it sure was fun, and you come home thinking that school’s great.

In the days since then, the brothers of the PJ laugher have cooked up a new bit of nonsense. I don’t mean the bottle rockets, either, the ones that No One shot off the first day they were all home from school.

“You have got to be kidding,” I muttered when I heard two loud reports outside the window. As I often do when such civil unrest unfolds, I slipped a message to their dad. “Will draw up papers momentarily, awarding you full custody for the summer. At your office. Gird your loins. Just sayin’,” it read. As he often does, he slipped one back, indicating that he was heading for the southern border. I sighed. “Here’s a taco,” I said. “See you tonight.”

But all of that nonsense isn’t what I meant. I’m talking about what kicked up after the announcement about the upcoming family vacation.

It was the summer of 2009 that we loaded up the BMV (Blue Mommy Van) and headed for the hills. For one glorious week, we vacationed in Branson, Missouri, the six of us, and had the time of our lives. Now, four years later, plans were in place to return again, and by every indication, the excitement meter was veering into the red.

It was the Middles who started it. I’d caught them in conference in the stairway on a Saturday. Where no cleaning was happening, and no laundry was being folded. There, they huddled, comparing notes.

“Get going,” I’d said, briefly considering the use of their own tactics against them. Two bottle rockets in the stairwell would get their attention, alright, but we’d all be lip reading for days.

“We’re playing Branson Trivia, Mom,” they said by way of explanation. Sure enough. They were.

“What was the first movie we watched at the IMAX theater?” “What was the name of the mini golf course we went to?” “What was different about the second go-cart track?” With these and a hundred other questions, they interrogated each other, testing their recollections and, I could see, reveling in fond memories and eager anticipation.

Then this, “What was the first meal you made for us at the condo?” Stumped, I shook my head. “Pizza!” they chorused. “And you burned it.”

Huh. Funny how they can remember go-carts and roller coasters and movies and stuff, but a Saturday work list gives them amnesia. Funny, too, how much fun a kid can have with vacation before ever leaving for one.

Perhaps a little nonsense is wise at times, whether it’s enjoying cartoons, laughing over family memories or going to work in one’s pajamas. Maybe we’d all be a bit better off by following Mr. Dahl’s advice.

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