I coined the phrase spontaneous stupidity after I was reminded by my children that by being spontaneous we can miraculously transform chaos into calm. Why add the word Stupidity though? I have always admired the court jester. It was in Europe where jesters had some of their greatest influence. Often called a fool, joker, clown or even less honorable names, the jester’s position was actually one of entertainment and political advice. The jester often walked a fine line between the acceptable and the profane. This, however, was because the jester could speak of things no one else in a king’s court dare. It is one thing to be spontaneous but it is another to be willing to try something you have never done before and possibly look stupid.
Since the jester did outrageous things all the time, he could speak the grave truth and get away with it as something said in “jest”. I love the idea of doing something stupid and getting away with it. Maybe that’s why the next story is so close to my heart
Anyone with five children under nine will tell you that life can be very noisy. It can also be one of the most challenging times in any young mother’s life. It was for me. I was barely coping. I felt my wings had been cut and I could no longer fly. Living on a steep hill meant taking the babies and our very active toddler for a walk required superhuman strength. Driving to the shops often meant leaving the babies outside the shop as the double stroller did not fit in an average door way and taking a stroll through a department store was impossible for the same reason. The stroller didn’t fit into the Ladies Restroom.
The twins had been home from hospital for only three weeks. My husband was at work and I was alone with all five children. Deciding to be organized, I put a chicken in the oven, a pot of potatoes on the stove and began to feed the twins. What was I thinking?
Sitting on the carpet in the lounge room, surrounded by pillows to prop up and support my tiny babies, I began the complicated process of feeding my twin boys, at the same time. All was going well until I heard a loud crashing noise and saw my twenty-two month old son pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboards, throwing pots and pans to the floor.
While I called out for him to come to me, my nine-year old daughter ran down the stairs hysterically crying that her new ballet dress had ripped on the edge of the wardrobe. “Please fix it mummy”, she cried.
If this wasn’t bad enough, my six-year old daughter, curious about all the clanging and banging in the kitchen, stood in the line of fire and got a saucepan to the shin.. Shrieks of screaming at decibels that threatened to crack all the windows shot through our apartment.
Both girls were now crying and my terror of a toddler, now determined to escape, had managed to get a stool and was opening the front door to make a run for it. And here I was, with both breasts firmly locked in two tiny mouths… and the phone started to ring! There was a faint burning smell coming from the kitchen
I unplugged the babies and lay them flailing on a rug on the floor and ran to grab my toddler and double lock the front door. As I turned off the stove, I instinctively grabbed a box of corn flakes and walked back into the lounge room where all five of my children were hysterically crying. I have no idea why I did what I did next…but my arm seemed to know what it was doing.
I proceeded to throw handfuls of corn flakes all over the room. With each handful the level of noise diminished and my children’s wails turned to whimpers, their eyes wide in shock. Eventually all that could be heard were cornflakes, raining down on the speckled carpet.
The children looked at me with total incredulity. All was quiet. Not a sound, even from the babies. Eventually in a soft whispery voice, I told the children to get a plastic bowl each from the kitchen, and whoever could pick up the most corn flakes would win a wonderful prize. The rest of the afternoon was spent gathering cornflakes, winning Freddo frogs and receiving surreptitious glances from the children to make sure I was not about to surprise them with another bizarre outburst. I wasn’t.
I was too busy enjoying being a mother to five children.