A Prince Among Ordinary Men (or How to Giggle During a Pandemic)

This morning, my son had a little trouble managing his emotions. Sometimes e-learning and quarantine get a little much for all of us. So we took turns writing a story together. I thought I’d share it with you here. I lightly edited his writing for grammar and clarity. The parts he wrote are in italics. I hope it makes you giggle a bit too:

Mom: Once upon a time there was a boy, a prince among ordinary men, named Alex.* He was the kind of boy that could make a bad day seem good, and by that I mean the world was a better place just because of the sheer fact he was in it. He didn’t realize this was true. He really had nothing to feel good about. In fact, sometimes he felt so bad, he just had to yell. And that’s just what he would do. (Yelling is ok, actually. We all feel like yelling sometimes, especially when the world seems to be totally wonky like it is right now.) 

He soon found ways to make himself feel a little better, even though it’s really rough sometimes. His mom helped just by being there when he needed a hug. That’s always nice. Anyway, he made a decision that, despite the fact that the adults of this world seemed to be screwing everything up, that today was going to be a good day. He realized he couldn’t control what was going on out there, but he could control what was happening in his heart of hearts and his brain of brains.

He had made up his mind. He slowly steeled his resolve, sat up straight in his chair, and said, “Ass!” as loud as he could. (Cursing always made him giggle and this time was no different.) He added in a “Shit!” for good measure just to make sure the cursing giggle lasted a little longer.

From the first giggle, something changed within him. He felt lighter. Dare he say, happier? No, he wasn’t ready to go there yet. But the weight of the world did seem to lift a little. The corners of his mouth started to edge upward just the slightest little bit. But don’t you dare call it a smile! It is not a smile. It is just what it is. Because what did he have to smile about?

Kid: No clue, he thought. What did he have to smile about? The world was going through something big. Why was he grinning, giggling, smiling? He threw himself on his bed and began to say the next curse word that came to his mind, “Da….”

Just then, his sister walked into his room and said, “Have you seen my phone?”

“No, I haven’t,” he said, finishing the other half of the curse word in his head. He giggled.

His sister asked, “What are you laughing at?”

“Nothing,” he said.

Mom: Cursing did make him feel better for the time being, but he wondered what he was going to do when he ran out of curse words. Hopefully, he wouldn’t need to pull out the “mother of all curse words.” You know the one I’m talking about. The one you’re even afraid to say to yourself, inside your head. Like, if you even think it, the principal is going to pop out of your bedroom closet, look at you with that ‘oh, you’re in trouble now’ look, raise her index finger and beckon you to follow her down the long hall (the long haul?) to the principal’s office.

You can feel it now. How everyone’s eyes turn to you in pity and fear. Pre-grieving for what is about to happen to you because you dared to think that one word.

Alex looked to the door where his sister just exited. Then he looked to the closet door. The principal wasn’t there. Thank goodness. Because he thought that for just one second he might have thought that word. You know the one I’m talking about.

“Meow,” he heard.

Kid: He looked down at the cat pleading to get out of the room. Alex opened the door and let her out. She ran down the long hall. Alex looked back at the closet and the door was now open. It couldn’t be his parents or his sister. They were all downstairs. Who was it?

Mom: It must’ve been the wind, Alex thought to himself as he shut the closet door. But remember that heart of heart and that brain of brains? Both his heart and his brains told him that it wasn’t just the wind.

Kid: He thought it might just be broken. Then a big germ leaped out at him and the house flooded with corona….

Then he woke up. Bad words flowed through his head. He giggled and started laughing, then laughing like crazy, then psycho laughing, and then he had a good night and day.

The End

*Names were changed to protect the innocent.

Published by

Janette DeFelice

Janette DeFelice, MD, MA is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. Her essay collection Resistance Essays from the Heartland and her new novel Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts are both available now. She has also published at Be The Change Mom, ChicagoNow, and Medium.com. She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago, where her major essay was Hegel and Ibsen: The Evolution of Consciousness in Ibsen’s Prose Play Cycle. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University. A former professional dancer, former adjunct Humanities professor, and former lecturer in Medical Clinical Skills, as well as a mom of 9-year-old twins, she currently finds herself at a career/life crossroads at which she is trying to figure out how to use all aspects of herself (her art, her medical and scientific knowledge, her philosophical explorations, her interest in popular culture as a teaching tool, and her unique perspective) for the good of humanity.

2 thoughts on “A Prince Among Ordinary Men (or How to Giggle During a Pandemic)”

  1. This made me laugh! What a great way to channel those difficult feelings and turn the mood around! Keep up the great work and stay healthy!


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