Surprise! What you say and what we hear can get weird

We were outside enjoying a rare early April day of warmth and sunshine, catching up on everyone's news from the prior week.  It was Sunday evening by the swake - family dinnertime.  JMH and Auntie Amanda were blowing bubbles that were floating off over the rooftop. The dogs were racing around alternately chasing each other or their own tails.  Doozer was trying to score a few taco chips whenever he thought the humans lost focus. A beer met an untimely end as Doozer's tail swept the top of a table.  Kanti walked between the deck chairs licking any human who had skin exposed.  Four generations and two canines were enjoying a raucous good time in the sunshine while the barbecue warmed up.

Sometimes the noisy excited stuff makes JMH a little uncertain, especially when the dogs get wound up.  You see he is still quite small compared to the four legged critters so we kept a close eye on things to ensure he didn't get knocked over.  But getting licked was quite another matter.  Kanti was unable to control herself.  When she walked past JMH she detoured momentarily to give him a big old German Shepherd face washing. She was very gentle about it but it happened in the flick of a very long tongue and it surprised everyone including JMH.  His reaction was devoid of pleasure at having been the object of Kanti's affection.

Grandpa stepped in to shoo Kanti away from her intended target.  As he physically intervened, he also shared these words of wisdom with little JMH.  "You are okay, J.  Kanti just gave you a kiss.  She's a good kisser.  She's slow and gentle."  Well, if Kanti hadn't succeeded in frightening JMH, our reaction to Grandpa's line surely scared the heck out of him.  It was instant laughter sprinkled with heckling, all of which were very loud.  Even Kanti withdrew.  Technically Grandpa had offered a well-intentioned attempt at reassurance that didn't come out quite right.

We have all done it.  We have said something with all the right intentions that somehow missed the mark for the receiver.  Sometimes we have made them laugh.  Other times we have wounded them without meaning to.  But those are the moments that life is made of.  How we respond in those moments when mortals communicate poorly is a measure of the graciousness we are capable of.

Our moment resulted in more silliness than graciousness.  It was a moment worth relishing with laughter.  The proclamation was simply an additional line in our story.  We were doing something that strengthens families.  We were weaving the moments of our zany lives together and adding lines to our story. We were having fun. We were demonstrating how to capture the fun, banish the fear, and bounce back from an unexpected face-washing. We were learning - how to blow bubbles, how to pry Doozer's jaws open to retrieve chips, and Grandpa's definition of a good kisser!