Dance Party-Now that’s funny

On (nearly) full blast.

For over half an hour.

The entire family sweaty and ridiculous.

OK, I was the ridiculous one. Which reminds me of the story of me taking an African Dance class back when I lived in New York City, about fifteen years ago. The instructor who was from the Congo had these words to say to me; “This is a dance about gathering the fish and taking them to the village. What you are doing looks more like someone who is killing the fish by flinging them to their death. Put them in the net, like this.”

Truth is, it is impossible not to smile when dancing with my boys. Afterwords, Sammy hugged the lactic acid out of me while saying; “I don’t care if you are sweaty. I love you a lot Mom.” Marcel was too busy dancing with his electric guitar to a song in his head.

September marks many beginnings. Kindergarten, new preschool, and a new year of growth and possibility for me in my teaching. It may mark other firsts.

But one not so quiet apparently little commitment I am making public here, is a challenge to laugh and smile in a large and meaningful way with my boys at some point every day. I am too blindingly serious all the time. I work my petunia off  (as Marcel’s new teacher calls it) and I need to get goofy.

The boys need to see me laugh, I need to laugh.

I feel like I lost a little, no, a lot of my funny bone in the last six or so years. Single parenting and adoption are not two of the funniest ways to create a family, true. Grief and exhaustion as a starting point for making it happen, do not lend oneself to knee slappers at the changing table. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t humor here, and there. That doesn’t mean I have to lose my connection to my often times wildly perceptive sense of the humorous in it all.

And we all know that there are serious health benefits to humor.

I want my kids to know me as a fully balanced and bubbly woman, not a work horse who barks at them.

I want that for myself too.

How do you keep it funny–when you are not feeling the humor?  What are your easy goof it up secrets? (And please don’t say television, because we don’t have one of those.) How would you help a serious Mama with a little lighten it up makeover?

I feel funnier already.

Being late to my first day back at work full time? It might be a stretch to make that into a punch line…


  1. You asked how we keep it funny, so I’ll give you my ideas, with this piece of advice. If you’re serious, the best you can hope for is to keep finding funny moments, and to keep coming back to that feeling of joy. This is when I find myself laughing, and it almost always starts with laughing at myself, never at them: When I get on the floor and play with the kids, especially silly role playing games that are exaggerated versions of our daily life. When I tell them stories I’ve made up along the same lines. When something goes wrong because of something I’ve done. When the kids laugh at me, or their father teases me, with what I recognize is gentle affection. When I sing songs with lyrics, and sometimes melodies, I’ve made up about them. When they, their father, or I tell potty jokes we’ve made up. These are especially effective for breaking the tension after I’ve disciplined them, if the misbehaviour isn’t of the kind that must be treated seriously. When we’re doing silly walks and dance moves when we’re playing Simon Says.

  2. Catherine,
    Do you know the book “Playful Parenting”? I’ve found it a lifesaver…

    One of this author’s ideas is that you take 30 minutes each day and let your kid(s) pick the agenda. And then you play with them full out at whatever they choose for 30 minutes. And if 30 minutes feels like too much, then you start with a smaller amount of time and work up. I have not figured out how to do this everyday. But I do it some days, and it makes an enormous difference.

    It’s not easy. Good luck.

    • Love this suggestion–don’t know the book. But I did try a version of the pick your agenda activity yesterday–actually gave them most of the day–and there was lots of EASE around here. Great to see how attached I get to agendas that I think they want… Thanks for all of these tips–and checking in!

  3. Catherine, what a great post to read after a stressful night with my oldest who also started kindergarten this week. She was exhausted and hot but after a cool shower, a read of Curious George and a backrub, sleep was hard for her to find tonight and I think it is because of the stress of school. I appreciate your thoughts as I think I too am too serious most of the time (Is it the curse of the name?) Anyway, thanks for writing and helping this struggling mother with some food for thought. I also like the suggestion of a scheduled 30 minutes of whatever they want for play per day. I am going to incorporate that into our days.

  4. for a year, i was a nanny for twin toddler girls. towards the end of my stay with them i felt that i lost some of that goofy, fun, spontaneity that helped get me the job in the first place. the seriousness of the job and the pressure that i felt to be perfect all the time made it hard to remember to have fun. i not only had to use my best judgement but i had to constantly think “what would their mom do.” the girls were also hitting a rough spot for behavior and were pushing everyone’s buttons every chance they got. this usually exhausted me by lunchtime and made me irritated and grumpy and not a fun nanny! when i recognized this pattern i made a point to have some goofy time and get all three of us laughing before their afternoon nap. some days it was as simple as doing something funny that would get them to giggle or running around crazy with them dancing for a few minutes. it felt good to just let go and enjoy each other’s company and they usually napped so much better. this allowed us to have a second start to what had been a crappy day. make sure that you smile and laugh and have a moment of goofy abandon every day!

    one of my current techniques for focusing on the happy things in life is to keep a happy journal. every night before i go to bed i right down a few things that made me happy that day. it might be interesting to do with your boys to see what their highlights were and share in each other’s happy moments. that would make sure that every day ends on a good note!

    • I love the happy journal idea! And what a great artifact from childhood. We are actually at dinner (began about a week ago) building a “We are thankful for…” wall. It’s a huge space where I write down what we are all thankful for and post it. It clearly has overlap with what we are happy about.

      I love your awareness around your work with the twins too! Thanks for commenting here.

  5. hello there. i read your blog, love it, and it often leaves me a little teary eyed [in a good sort of way]. i find your honesty inspiring.

    i nanny, for two beautiful, silly, smart, sensitive, and sometimes challenging almost-five year olds. i’ve helped raise them from 3 months. i try to find time to be silly, say yes, and not yell every day. some days are more sucessful than others. most days though, i find that the belly laughs will just find you.

    the most recent favorite is when the twins stuffed animals talk to them or dance. my little guy has a favorite blanket, appropriatly named “blankie.” blankie has a hippo head and arms and he is well loved. the other night i was feeding them dinner and we were all worn out from heat. not really thinking much of it i made blankie start dancing and singing along with the ipod. the kids started cracking up which in turn led to me cracking up.

    happy laughing! 🙂

Leave a Reply