Most families treasure their traditions. Some even pass them down from generation to generation.
At our house, one of our traditions is designed to create tension and suspense in my wife, Melissa. Maybe even some anxiety.
Whenever Melissa travels out of town, my son and daughters and I conspire to do something that Melissa would either never approve of, or never expect, in order to surprise her on her return. It’s almost like a disincentive for her to ever leave the house again.
The moment the garage door closes and the car pulls out of the driveway, we’re all over it.
One of the kids is guaranteed to say, “Okay — so what are we gonna do to surprise Mum?”
That’s when the ideas begin to flow. All in innocent fun of course, but we figure we’re getting away with something. This has been going on since 2002. You’d think we’d be good at it by now.
She’d never approve of …
Melissa grew up in a home that didn’t ever consider non-canines as potential pets. So that opened up a whole world of possibilities.
Goldfish possessed punch when the kids were really young. Rodents were always on Melissa’s “most despised” list, so rats, hamsters and mice were all in the running. When five-hundred of Remy’s relatives dropped out of the ceiling in “Ratatouille”, that was game over for Melissa, but food for thought for the rest of us.
Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock, birds couldn’t be trusted either. That opened up even more possibilities. Birds fly onto your head and poop in your hair and peck your eyes out.
“Okay guys, it’s time to head to the pet store!”
Also falling into this “never approve of” category were scary movies. Melissa never seemed to enjoy the tension Stephen Speilberg created in suspense flicks like Jaws, Jurassic Park, Twilight Zone (The Movie), or Indiana Jones, but the kids sure seemed to when Melissa wasn’t home.
She would never expect …
Not everything we did fell into that first category of things Melissa would never approve. The softer side of surprise could still have impact without going so much against her inclinations.
Unexpected surprises included such things as painted bookshelves, redecorated rooms, or new entertainment technology (TV’s or electronic games). As a family, we were never on the front edge of the wave on technology. Given our budget and moral values, we were consistently late adopters, but our kids were very forgiving.
Another time we surprised Melissa with an inversion table as a means to address a spine related issue she was having. To this day, a friend of mine is still convinced that I installed it in the room just next to our bedroom for reasons best left to the imagination.
The real moment of truth and test of our group effectiveness is when we hear the garage door going back up, signaling Melissa’s highly anticipated return. As she crosses the threshold, gingerly drifting from room-to-room, eyes scanning every detail of the interior of the house, the four of us follow angelically, with anything but poker faces.
When a wife and mother delivers genuine soothing love, day-in and day-out, momentary surprise paybacks are just part of coming home.
Blessings on your home,