Laughter is the closest distance between two people.
My children were playing “adults” this afternoon. Their rules were simple: “You sit here & I’ll sit here, and we’ll have a conversation like adults”. My three year old son, fascinated by the idea, started talking about going to Wegmans, and then quickly dissolved into laughter. “Talking like adults” is, apparently, hilarious. My six year old daughter – obviously the game coordinator – immediately corrected him, “No, no,” she said, “You can’t laugh. Adults don’t laugh.”
Now, according to my children, there are things adults DO talk about: Serious Shops (our business), grocery shopping, driving, getting children in the bathtub & ready for bed. But, when they started laughing again (fun game that this was), my daughter piped right up – more emphatically this time, “NO, we can’t laugh, because adults don’t laugh.”
It wasn’t any of my business, I admit – I wasn’t part of the game. I was doing “adult stuff” like cleaning up the kitchen, while they were playing. But hey, they were in my hearing range, and I wanted to set the record straight! So, I interjected, “Adults DO laugh!” to which I received the reply back, without hesitation: “Not really!”
This interaction brought to mind this quote by Oscar Wilde: Life is too important to be taken seriously.
Us adults – or, more specifically, us parents – tend to take ourselves too seriously.
I’ve been making my way through the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen for quite some time now. It’s a fantastic book – all about connecting with your children through play and… laughter. He has an entire chapter devoted to laughter: Follow The Giggles. He says, “Sharing a giggle is a basic way to join and connect with children. Laughter automatically brings people closer.” (p.79)
I've seen it happen; it really is so true. Even though, as busy adults, it can be a real challenge.
When things get stressful – particularly during the witching hour – you know when I mean: the late afternoon, when school and work is over, dinner is about to be made, the children are bored, my patience has left, and everyone has had just about enough of each other, I want to reconnect with my children – and they with me! But, we’re all so wrapped up in our annoyance with a long day that isn’t quite fun anymore – perhaps our thoughts are mulling over tasks we didn’t finish at the office, or projects around the house we meant to get to (but didn’t), or blog posts that we wanted to write (but never got out of our heads), and that reconnection with our children feels like this far-off, out-of-reach ideal. So, instead of coming together, we tend to withdrawal from each other – perhaps me to my kitchen or the computer, and they to their games (where they tend to do whatever possible to get on each other’s nerves) or ask to watch a movie (which tends to result in disagreements over what they’d like to watch).
Most days, I end up intervening in the bickering – grumpily – which doesn’t improve anyone’s ability to make it peacefully through to Daddy arriving home, and certainly doesn’t aid in our reconnection.
But some days – when I can relax enough to crack a joke, make a funny face, or just plain act goofy – when I can drop my seriousness just a bit, and remember that there will be time to finish all that other "important" stuff – when I realize that the real important stuff is my children and their immediate need to reconnect with me – I am able to use laughter to break through the grumpies. The distance between us dissolves along with our daily stresses. We giggle, and hug, and relax, and then we can all get on with our day. Peaceful. Reconnected.
I’m going to laugh more with my children. It isn’t hard – laughter. In fact, it’s fun! It’s one of the easiest ways to get back in touch with the kid inside yourself – and help your children connect with you.
Here’s to laughter (it is the best medicine, right?)!