I know parenting can be really tough. You wreck your social life, stay up during the long nights when your baby would rather play or cry than sleep, and not get the time to do anything for your own entertainment such as watching tv or enjoy a good meal or, as it turns out for me, reading books as well as writing this blog. Your friends who don’t have kids stop meeting you that often, while you happen to forget about those friends who are still single. You make sacrifices in your work life, like my wife has, and look at people’s updates on social media and feel sad that the rest of the world is having so much fun.
But one fact we new parents tend to overlook is that if we look carefully in our own homes, there is something that are a greater source of fun and joy than what’s playing on the tv or in those trips you used to take. Our babies, these little people wandering about cluelessly, are searching for something. They are discovering this world as well as themselves. Everything is new to them, even their own feelings and the fact that they can feel something. What is also new to them is having fun.
In the first few months of their lives, a toy hanging over their heads swinging here-n-there can be fun. The sight of different colors can be fun. Then a display of lights can be fun. As they grow up, they smile at weird faces. Put a net over them and they get excited and laugh. Make funny faces and sounds and they will think it the funniest thing in the world and will be consumed with laughter. Seriously, have you ever tried peekaboo? My daughter used to laugh so hard it could be heard two rooms away.
As the children become bigger and bigger, they discover more and more ways of having fun. My favourite is when I try to hide in a corner in our room, sometimes behind her cot or by the side of our bed, and my 1 y.o. daughter comes looking for me. When she finds me, the feeling of having discovered me makes her laugh so hard, I am astonished every single time. And guess what her laughing leads me to do? Laugh back harder. I also learn to react by screaming with fear as soon as she discovers me, in order to her increase her sense of achievement thus making her laugh even more. I get up and run away from her, slowly and very comically, so that she understands (I hope) that I am scared of being caught by her. This little drama happens every day in our home and it ends with her being so exhausted with laughter that she basically drops down on the floor and lies flat.
At other times, we play some nursery rhymes which she really enjoys, such as “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” The day we realized she has started to understand the actions on that rhyme, we started to sing it along for her and make a big show out of ‘Clap your hands’, ‘Stomp your feet’, ‘Shout hurray’, ‘Say hello’, ‘Turn around’ and it would absolutely fascinate her. She is amazed by our singing and dancing with her, tries to copy something, gets it right and then doesn’t stop doing it. She has been turning around in circles until she loses her balance and falls on the floor, only to get up again and continue. She loves being flown around the home like an airplane in daddy’s arms and the sense of flight gives her so much joy. Throw in some soap bubbles and she is on the peak of happiness.
When I do all this, I realize that I am teaching fun to someone who otherwise did not know what fun was? In other words, when my child laughs she is genuinely discovering what fun is like and she wouldn’t know this if I weren’t showing it to her. And doing all these mad things with your child basically allows you to become one yourself. You go back to your own childhood, pluck the things that made you laugh and present them now to them. And in all this, you live your childhood once again and learn to have fun in the simplest things in life.
So, when you can have so much fun, become a child again and be free to do all the mad little things that bring you and your child joy, can you really say that fun has disappeared from your life just because you cannot do what other adults are doing? I know I don’t feel sad about not being able to go have a beer with friends or with my wife as well. Because I do enjoy so much more with my daughter when I make her laugh, or pick her up and comfort her when he is crying. When I crawl like a little doggy and make funny gestures and chase her around the home, she laughs until eyes fill up with tears.
So, it is really really important to have fun and raise a happy child in a happy environment. They really are bundles of joy.
How has your experience been? What kind of funny things do you do with your kids? Do let me know by commenting below.