My 6-year-old daughter has a dollar store board book filled with jokes that she has memorized and frequently she chooses it as one of our “bedtime stories.”
“Do you remember all the answers,” she will ask.
“But aren’t they still so funny?”
Well, no, I think to myself. Aloud, I smile and nod.
We take turns asking each other the 30 jokes, which range from knock-knocks to riddles.
Although, we both know the “answers” to each, we sometimes respond with something off the wall, catching one another off guard; inciting laughter. Other times, we read them as they’re intended. She giggles at each one. In turn, I laugh. Not because the jokes are a knee-slapper but because Lexi’s relentless pursuit of joy is contagious.
After a few weeks of reading, I no longer silently willed her to choose anything but the joke book as she ran her index finger across the titles of her overstuffed bookshelf. Obviously the punchlines did not change, so why did I now look forward to the book I once dreaded?
As Lexi finished the last page one night, she decided to make up her own jokes. In typical first grade fashion, they did not make sense.
“What is a crocodile’s favorite food?”
After I mulled over actual responses in my head, she’d say: “Give up?”
Pizza? I questioned.
“Well, isn’t that everybody’s favorite food?”
I laughed. In response to my laughter she said “This has been the best day. Know why? Because we’ve laughed morning til night.”
From that moment on, I vowed to make laughter a priority for us. If she noticed we laughed a lot, that means, not only is it important to her but, she most certainly picks up on other actions.
I vowed to stop trying to stay “caught up.” Caught up in where to pitch my next article, where I have to be in three hours, caught up in things I couldn’t change. And most importantly, caught up in how others were living.
We may not all be jokesters but a day like April Fool’s Day is a great reminder for everyone to stop taking life so seriously.
As parents, and people in general, we are constantly faced with societal pressure to live the “right way.” I remember when I got divorced and moved across the country with Lexi when she was just 6 weeks old. I went click crazy, reading every article, blog and status about how to be a “single parent.” But I was forgetting to consult the most important person, the one who was actually living this journey: myself.
We get so caught up in trying to live by what our newsfeed says we should or should not do, eat, drink, say, think that each time we scroll we become a bit more like everybody else and a bit less like ourselves.
It’s easy to say put down your smartphone, step away from the computer and get outside. But those things have becomes our reality so that isn’t always a realistic suggestion. Instead of telling people to stop staring at a screen, let’s encourage each other to embrace our lives as individuals.
Ultimately, if we are comparing ourselves to other parents, other people … our children will do the same. We cannot expect our kids to think for themselves if we aren’t modeling how to do so.
Next time you’re reading Supermom’s status on Facebook or a new article about the latest diet fad, just remember people sometimes make up our own punchlines based on what they believe to be generally accepted.
Like the crocodiles who apparently loves pizza.
The beauty of a punchline is not everyone needs to get it, agree with it or live by it. In fact, it’s probably best you don’t. Maybe your crocodile chooses watermelon instead.
Just don’t forget to embrace your individuality and laugh along the way.