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A Family of April Fools

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April is National Humor Month, and as one of six siblings growing up, we were lucky to have that humor in our lives; otherwise, we probably would have been at each other’s throats. I honestly believe that laughter is essential to good family relationships, and over the years, we’ve collected plenty of stories to chuckle about. In the spirit of good humor, I’m sharing what April fools we all are.

Let’s get my humiliation out of the way first. When I was in high school, I thought it would be interesting to try a different hairstyle. Unfortunately, I decided on the Afro. As you can guess, this was a really bad idea. But I only realized how insanely stupid it was after I’d already done it. To this day, my siblings still laugh thinking back at how I looked. There is mercy out there since there are no photos of this “great look.” Not long after that, my hairline started receding, so my brothers and sisters still have a lot of fun blaming the Afro and saying my hair loss is the universe’s way of punishing me.

Speaking of haircuts, I remember when my older sister got a particularly memorable one. At the time, the ice skater Dorothy Hamill was extremely popular, and so was her short haircut. My sister had always had long brown hair, but she decided to chop it off to emulate Hamill’s style. She came home with the new short wedge cut, already feeling a bit vulnerable, only for my brother to yell out, “Get the bolts!” It was a reference to Frankenstein — he was saying that all she needed were the two bolts on the side of her neck to resemble him perfectly. It certainly wasn’t what my sister wanted to hear, but we still laugh about it to this day.

Meanwhile, one of other my brothers was notorious for loving his warm bed and hating to get dressed in cold clothes. So, he figured out a plan. His bed was pressed against the floorboard radiator, which kept that side of the bed nice and toasty. He got the idea to shove all of his clothes down onto the baseboard radiator at night to make them warm in the morning. As a result, he always came downstairs with the massively wrinkled clothes, with steam coming off them! He couldn’t have cared less how he looked — he just wanted to be warm.

He wasn’t the only eccentric one in the family. When my younger sister was in elementary school, she decided she wanted to be a horse. Yes, a horse. She’d put a towel in her shorts to represent a tail and galloped around the backyard. It was mildly concerning, but she was a kid. All that practice came in handy one day at school when there was a four-legged race as part of our school’s fitness challenge. She was the only girl to sign up, and all of the boys were laughing at her, declaring how badly she’d lose. Of course, she blew the hooves off all of them. From then on, they never gave her any grief.

One last story: We had a dog named Crosby who loved us to death. One year, we were on vacation in Maine and went out fishing on Long Lake. Crosby was barking at us on the shoreline, but we waved goodbye and thought nothing of it. Well, once we were out of sight, he decided he couldn’t bear being without us — he jumped in the water and swam half a mile down the lake to find us. Mercifully, some people pulled him into their boat. They eventually approached us and asked, “Is this your dog?” Crosby was wagging his tail, excited to see us as we looked on in shock. We still laugh that our crazy dog would rather have died than be separated from us.

In my opinion, laughter is good medicine. It releases endorphins, reduces stress, and strengthens your immune system. Whenever I can, I try and inject some humor into my interactions with my patients. I am hopeful that it makes for more relaxing consultations and treatments. It is a delight to enjoy laughter with my staff as well, and it makes the day in the office feel more like being at home.

But there is nothing else like laughing with your family. It tightens your bond, and I think it has helped bring us all together during difficult times. Whenever we can, we take the opportunity to reminisce and laugh about childhood memories. Thankfully, my kids and my wife both feel the same way. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who can see the humor in things — whether it’s a bad hairstyle or a near drowning.