Monday, September 22, 2014

"You're weird, Mom."

“NOOO!!!!!! Tribbles don’t go for walks! What are you thinking? You have to CARRY it! I can’t believe you did that!” *insert massive wailing*

"But I can't go to sleep! I don't have The Flu!" *insert frantic searching under the bed for a stuffed flu virus*

Or another example, the other day I was sitting on the couch, silently minding my own business, ignoring my children, when the older one walked over and yelled, “Mommy!” I responded calmly, “um, what?” to which she yelled back, “I don’t want to talk to you right now!” *insert confused blinking*

Recently we had relatives over and during some down time, the girls were playing in the dining room area while the adults relaxed on the couch and I puttered around the kitchen. The girls were being their usual selves, playing their normal imaginary games. I was only half listening, just catching stray sentences about coronations, brain eating amoebas, vampires, time travel, etc. Then I looked at our guest sitting on the couch who apparently had been listening in.

“Is this what you listen to all day?” she asked.

To my girls, all this is completely, totally, 100% serious stuff. To me, it is hard to not bust out laughing sometimes (a lot of the time). There are times it gets annoying and I did have to make a “No Fighting About Imaginary Stuff” rule, but it is usually so random that it is hard to not just go, “wait, what did you just say?”

My mom says, among other things, kids need humor and heroes. I totally agree.  The heroes part I’ll talk about later. The humor part seems to be one sided a lot of the time, however, sadly. The girls are hilarious to me. What they say and do and how they dress. I love it. I often step out of the room to laugh so they won’t think I am laughing at them (which I am). They don’t see the humor in what they are doing, though, which makes sense. They don’t always see humor in what I am doing either. A lot of what I have to do is not funny. Cooking, cleaning, paying bills, driving, laundry, and kitty litter are not especially entertaining. Especially the bill paying. Not funny at all. And kitty litter is literally poopy. So what do we do? How do we teach our kids that there is humor in the world and that they don’t have to take everything so seriously? Even though being a grown-up is blechily serious. Ugh. This is an important lesson, so it requires extra effort no matter how serious and grown-up we feel. Here’s what the girls’ dad and I try to do:
  1. Goofy selfies. Trite, right? But it never fails to make them laugh and shows them we don’t take ourselves so seriously we are afraid to look ridiculous. Their dad is extra good at this.
    They stole my phone and I got it back
    FULL of pictures like this.
  2. Horrible dancing. This is not hard. Good dancing is hard. Horrible dancing is just fun. All we have to do is, again, not take ourselves super seriously. I have a really bad back, so sometimes this one is actually painful, but the pay off is worth it when the girls join in and relax. Enjoying being alive is a good thing.
  3. Decorate however we want.
    Watching some tv with Pillow Nana
    We do like HGTV and decorating magazines, books, and blogs. My older daughter stole my copy of Young House Love and has already planned her own first house. But when it comes to decorating our own home, we don’t mind mixing walruses, dinosaurs, and skulls. Those things make us happy, so that is what we put out. All year. We tell the girls we decorate to make ourselves smile. And we do. It is hard to not smile when I look around my living room and see a crazy blend of Polish folk art, Ukrainian embroidery, a giant robotic triceratops, a life size stuffed version of my mom (not taxidermy . . .  like a rag doll . . . slightly less creepy), my Jane Austen action figure, a sparkly purple skull, etc. To others I’m sure it is a random clutter of things that make them say, “um, what’s that?” (I’m sure because they do say that when they come here and see Pillow Nana), but to us it is our home.
  4. Sing along with songs we like. We can’t sing. Really. We’re not musically talented at all. A lot of the time it is just lip syncing. But it’s fun. And often drives the girls nuts. Which is just extra fun. So when we hear a song we like, we go along with it. I admit, whenever I hear Eye of the Tiger, I bust out not only my best lip syncing but also my super awesome horrible dancing. Actually, I have pretty much these same dance moves (although my car isn’t as cool):

Our end goal is simple. We want the girls to be happy. Life is full of bad stuff. There is disease and war and natural disasters. There are also all the little things that drain us day to day like bullies, annoying people, boring tasks, stresses, etc. We need to learn how to focus on the joy whenever we can. They can’t always see how funny and silly their little lives our, so as grown-ups we have to show them it is ok to laugh and give them things to laugh at.
We have to show them not everything has to be super serious because there are enough serious things already. So put that goofy hat on for no reason other than to make a kid smile. Don’t worry about looking like a doofus.

Dance like Elaine. Go on. Right now. Or when you pick your kids up from school. Or in the grocery store.

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