Children:Badasses of Lighten Up

Oh, lighten up!  

        When it comes to lightening up, children are the make you or break you standard. Every parent knows that there is a very fine line between teaching our child appropriate limits and limiting our child with our own little nuggets of crazy.  So if you have a wound too tight parenting style, lighten up before your kids lighten you up.

          Paul says: As a dad, I find myself needing to touch my lips to see if the weird shit that was just said actually came out of my mouth. These are not just the things that my parents said that I have sworn that I would never say. Those are bad enough. But I’m referring to the sentences that are unique to me since I cannot imagine the situation that provoked the phrase being universal.

          ‘Who’s poopoo are you holding?’

          ‘Don’t put things into your (supply anatomical hole)’

          ‘You’re okay. You just slipped on the peepee.’

           ‘Stop licking the dog!’

          Try saying these sentences, sometimes in rapid succession, and you see why I say that children will lighten you up. At some point, I figured out that I need to let some stuff go and give way to the little joys that are children. Now don’t get me wrong. If you’ve read our stuff, you know that we believe in discipline and good boundaries, especially in the child/parent dynamic, and my kids have been subject to a good non-child-services promoting beating but sometimes kids are kids.

          It is somewhat ironic that the things we most love and admire in children are the traits that we most try to squelch. Innocence, inquisitiveness, imagination and playfulness are unfortunately an anathema to a busy parent, something to be gently exorcized. We want them to explore the limits of their creativity but only on an 8 ½ X 11 sheet of paper and they need to be clean about it. We want them to play…quietly. We promote curiosity but not about anything fun and definitely not about our stuff.

          And we all know we do this. It’s part of parenting. Finding the balance between Attila the Dad and Bozo the Father is the great high wire act of child rearing. The question is whether we can retain our sanity while we search for this illusive equilibrium. Or, more succinctly, are we having fun being parents?

          For me, I know that the answer is ‘sometimes’. Generally I have a ‘no blood, no foul’ parenting attitude. But lately, as Lee and I have gotten busier promoting our book, Dysaffirmation: Because this kind of stupid takes work, my tolerance for the childlike nature on my two youngest has significantly waned. I am fully aware that I have ‘heavy-ed up’ over the last month and I am taking measures to rectify the situation. We are going on vacation this week and I look forward to saying the little fun things.

          ‘Yes, you can have pancakes for dinner.’

          ‘Run. Run like the wind.’

          So I encourage you all, next time you’re with your children and you see a puddle, attack it. Next sand box, show your kid how to create a castle then become a giant monster and stomp on it. But don’t eat poop and don’t put things up your nose.  

And lighten up.

          Lee says: One of my favorite games to play with Paul is ‘What did you just say?’ Having three children and three dogs makes for some interesting things. The boys, who are significantly younger than our daughter, are like keeping monkeys. I have given up on trying to understand them and now look to my husband for an indication that he can communicate with our primates. They are funny, frustrating, cute and disgusting all at the same time.

          We are stressed right now trying to get things done and it makes being a zoo keeper more difficult to communicate with them without ranting and screaming. Hopefully our vacation will bring us some peace and I will once again be able to appreciate the howler monkeys and their feces throwing ways.



  • Miriam Alario

    The hardest part for me was always to maintain the serious parental scowl while trying not to bust up out loud at what ever my daughter had come up with.
    Never having had a VCR, Nova was not confined to PBJ sandwiches or oatmeal in the load slot. She managed to find other, MUCH more ingenious ways to make me realize what a tame child I had been.
    From scavenging icecream money in the neighborhood (under the guise of collecting for my cancer treatments,) to ripping her armpit while winning the Highest-jump-off-the-swing contest, kids not only make you lighten up, they also teach you how to balance parenting with remembering how great it was to BE a child.
    Not that she is grown, I miss the joy of seeing her light-bulb come on.

    PS… ask Paul how his brother does in heat and cold…

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