The Funny Business of Parenting: Cut loose with your kids and add a dose of silly.
One of the worst things about being a parent is having to be a mature, responsible grownup all the time. Otherwise, anarchy will prevail and the young folk will stop bathing and doing their chores.
The point is, kids need routine to maintain a sense of security and proper self-discipline and someone in the house has to keep things on an even keel.
But every once in a while, it becomes necessary to jump into a car in pajamas at midnight and get fast food. This must be done on a school night and shoes are optional, otherwise it doesn’t count.
Sure, as parents we must be good role models, make thoughtful decisions and after a kid flushes another toothbrush down the toilet, resist the urge to run away from home, (which could lead to slinging margaritas for a living on some tropical island, a much easier job than parenting). But sometimes, especially during stressful days like these, it feels good to cut loose and blow off some steam.
Bending the rules from time to time is a good start, even if it’s as simple as having ice cream for dinner or playing hooky from school for the day. Even the most diligent parent gets tired of limiting screen time, pushing vegetables and pondering whether allowing toy guns will lead to the tragic downfall of humanity.
Going a little off the rails can be cathartic while teaching skills like being flexible, flying by the seat of one’s pants and thinking outside the box. It can also boost parent-child bonding.
If this means that one must have a random sword fight with light-up foam sticks at bedtime, so be it. It could also involve the hurling of laundry in a rather creative game of indoor tag (after which a crash course in folding becomes necessary) or a random pillow fight to break a somber mood. Whatever you do, aim for laughter and a respectable dose of silly.
Shenanigans like these can also lead to unease among those tasked with setting a good example. The other day, after a particularly grueling discourse on root words with a group of youngsters, our Zoom meeting ended in a bit of mayhem. It seems that the teacher (I’m not naming names here) allowed a particularly deserving scholar to be the “host” and lead the meeting. In short, I have never seen children laugh so hard as I was muted then booted out of the meeting and sent to the “waiting room.” Luckily, the culprit saw fit to allow me back. (I also learned that a teacher can reverse this ill-advised transfer of power.)
Meanwhile, since there’s a possibility that such antics could teach a young person that slacking off is OK, it may be necessary to follow up a wildly entertaining activity with a refreshing lecture on the merits of everyday upstanding behavior and healthy habits. But after the smoke clears and the hysterics are ancient history, be sure to plan your next nutty move.