joepirilloJoseph PirilloEating meals together as a family strengthens the family unit, fosters fellowship and overall cohesiveness. I know that, I believe it. I do love family meals.

But, in reality, I wonder whether we’re doing them the right way. Perhaps, in the world of family Catholic dinners, we have slid off the tail end of normal. Or worse yet, maybe what we do is just unusual enough to require a special dispensation from our local ordinary. (“Honey, can you check into that?”)

Either way, we try our best. I’m sure the Lord can appreciate that. We make the most of it.

The other day we had a chicken pasta dish. It was delicious, and the Parmesan cheese that our little ones love to sprinkle on their pasta really did look lovely all over the floor. Little John amazed us, and took his plate to the counter after dinner. Hurray! Grace continued to sip her milk in infinitesimal quantities.

Meanwhile, Joseph felt the urge to get up and spin. He has a knack for spinning. At the park, he’ll spin very quickly on one of those centrifugal toddler poles and only after 30 minutes or so is he unable to walk properly.

So, anyway, Joseph spins. Fine, we can deal with that. However, this time, he spun into the corner of the dining room chair (it has rounded edges mind you) and punctured his forehead. Before I saw the wound, I thought to myself, “OK, well, while not a good thing, perhaps that will slow him down a bit.”

Needless to say, we headed to the emergency room some 10 miles away. The bleeding had stopped, but we figured he would need a few stitches. Rounding the corner to the hospital Grace mentioned to Joseph that we were going to the dungeon. I’m not quite sure why she said this, but it stuck and they proceeded to refer to the hospital as the dungeon throughout the evening.

Teresa took Joseph into the inner recesses of the hospital, while Grace, John and I waited in the lobby. It was a school night, it was raining, we had just finished dinner, and we would now spend the evening in the ER waiting room. Not exactly a successful evening.

That said, we were the only ones in our side of the room and “Little House on the Prairie” was on. We prayed for Joseph and made the best of our unusual circumstance. Ironically, we watched Pa Ingalls break his ribs wrestling a kite out of the tree. I guess accidents happen to everyone.

Two hours after our arrival, Joseph came to us in the waiting room. Bracelet ID, a sticker and blue stitches; the doctor said he was as quiet as a mouse. Perhaps we could eat dinner in the hospital next time? I thought.

We drove back home in the dark and in the rain. It was an unexpected and unfortunate adventure. But we were all there for each other. And we were all, in the end, safe. There was much to be thankful for; the Lord had helped us make the most of a bad situation. Ah, time to relax.

Just then, I hear Joseph in the back whisper to Grace, “I want to crack my head open again, so I can go back to the dungeon.”

Heaven help us.

(Joe is married to Teresa. They have three active children and run a joyful home in Plymouth. Opportunities for heavenly inspired humor abound. Joe, a librarian and Teresa, a physical therapist, are parishioners at St. John the Baptist, Plymouth.)