Outcomes Offered

■ Positive communication skills

■ The benefits of humor

■ The joy of helping another

Jodie's mom was feeling sad when I first met her. I guess we all get sad at times. Moms and dads can get sad. Boys and girls can get sad. We are also happy at times, excited at times, or playful at times. Sometimes it helps, if we are feeling down, to know what we can do to feel better.

Jodie's mom told me a story about how that had happened for her. I suppose Jodie knew her mom was feeling down. I'm not sure she knew how much one simple question she asked, while they were eating supper, could help her mother feel better. I think Jodie was just curious. Maybe the kids at school had been talking about it. What Jodie asked her mom was this: "Tell me a story about me before I was born."

Jodie's mom thought for a while as she remembered back over her pregnancy, the time when Jodie was still in her tummy. "There was one day," she said in a short while, "in fact, the day you were due to be born. You weren't in any hurry, a bit like now when it's time for you to go to school. Your dad was at work and we lived on a little hobby farm where we grew our own vegetables and had our own chickens and ducks. Well, somehow the ducks got out, and I couldn't just leave them. What if the foxes got them while I was in the hospital? I had to round them up.

"I had a big fat tummy and was waddling around like an old duck myself. I tried to corner them against a fence, but I could hardly bend over to pick them up and they'd scatter in all directions, quacking as though they were laughing at me. Each time I got close they'd flap their wings or just waddle off. As I was chasing them around the five acres, I felt some pains. You decided it was time to be born. I couldn't leave the ducks out so I went and got an old sack, cornered them one at a time and threw the sack over them." Jodie was laughing out loud at the thought at her big fat mom waddling around, chasing the ducks.

When her mom told her the next bit, Jodie's laughter became louder. "As I was carrying one of the ducks back," she said, "it did a poo all down the side of my dress." Jodie could hardly contain her laughter and Jodie's mom was laughing at the memory, too.

"One by one," she said, "I rounded them up and got them back into their pen. When I finally got inside, I phoned your dad and asked him to come and take me to the hospital. I was too worn out to even change my smelly dress. He was rushing in to the hospital when a police car pulled him over for speeding, but seeing me, all muddy, covered in duck poo and pregnant, they gave us an escort into the hospital with sirens blaring. I guess you made a pretty dramatic entry into the world."

Jodie had never heard the story before and she laughed until tears were running down her cheeks. Jodie's mom hadn't taken the time to tell the story before or even to reflect on how funny it had all been. By asking a simple question, Jodie had helped her mother in a way that she hadn't even thought might be helpful. I guess they both learned that finding something to laugh about can help if you are feeling down.

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