Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Children's Humor Book

A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: “We used to skate outside on the pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, “I sure wish I had gotten to know you sooner!”

Purpose: to promote the healing power of laughter and play within families

As parents and even as teachers of children we often forget that laughter and play is a critical for a healthy family.

Book Project: There are many ways to promote the healing power of humor in families and with people who work with children. One project is to publish a collection of humorous short stories of the fun sayings and experiences from childhood: yours, mine and ours -- that is, we as children, our children, our children’s children and children in the classroom. It must be original based on your personal experience, not something already published elsewhere. Juried contest: a small group of impartial judges will select the top entries for publication.

Besides the funny stories, I will include chapters about the importance of humor in families along with practical ideas about how to increase laughter among family members. As with my other projects, I want this to be practical, pithy (with substance) and above all playful.

Send your entries to: Be sure to include your name, address, phone number and email address so I can send you a copy when it is published.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Humor and Grandparents

My young grandson called the other day to wish me a happy birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him “62” he was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, “Did you start at 1?”

A little boy asked his grandpa how old he was. The grandpa said “you know I’m not sure.” Little boy said “check your underwear. Mine says I’m 4-6.”

It seems we don’t have to remind grandparents to enjoy children. Grandparents bring a greater freedom and acceptance of themselves and the children. Although there are big differences between parenting and grandparenting, we don’t need to wait until we are grandparents to enjoy children.

(ASIDE - When I typed the word “grandparenting,” spell check gave me a choice between hyphenating it “grand·parent·ing” or “grandpa· rent·ing.” Even spell check likes wordplay.)

I encourage people to allow parents and grandparents to tell funny stories about their children and grandchildren even if “you had to be there.” I especially like to give single parents the opportunity to tell stories of their children. One of the greatest losses in single parenting is not having someone with whom to share the funny experiences.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adolescent humor

Another sneak peak from my new book Laugh and Live. I hope you all enjoy!

Right after my son became an adult, I finally figured out adolescent humor. That’s the way it is with parenting; just when we begin to understand what is going on with our children, they catapult to the next stage. In my experience, many adolescents love to watch and recount the stupid things adults say and do. Seek to keep a light heart as teenagers laughingly point out your eccentricities, flaws, and frailties. Remember that we are very funny to them, as our parents were also very funny to us. In fact, my best advice to parents of teens: hold tight to your sense of humor. You will need it.

In 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said, Ross and Kathryn Petras include:

“A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it is written on.”

—Samuel Goldwyn, movie mogul

“The streets are safe in Philadelphia; it is only the people who make them unsafe.”

—Frank Rizzo, mayor

“During a state of national emergency resulting from enemy attack, the essential functions of the Service will be as follows: (1) assessing, collecting and recording taxes...”

Internal Revenue Service, 1976

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Parents, perfection and humor

One of the best investments we can make in the future is to do whatever it takes to increase our confidence as parents. One critical ingredient for lightening up as parents is the recognition that our parents/ caretakers did the best they could with the resources they had.

In a powerful transformational education program through Landmark Education, I realized at the age of forty-two, that I still wanted my mother to be who I wanted her to be. I hadn’t realized that I was making her wrong for not teaching me how to relax. She did teach me how to work hard, for which I am grateful. I would not be where I am today without that ability. Now I have the privilege of giving my eighty-five-year-old mother permission to relax.

In letting go of the past, specifically the expectations for my mother, I took responsibility for my life and lightened up in my parenting— not expecting myself or my son to be perfect. I will never forget one mother saying, “There are plenty of therapists out there.” She was admitting publicly that she was not going to be the perfect parent. Our children will have their own stuff with which to deal.

The harder we try to be perfect and expect them to be perfect, the less we will enjoy our children. In fact, the notions we have—the ways we think we should be perfect—can be a great source of humor. Learn to laugh at those notions, e.g., we should always have clean clothes on our children; we should be polite and have children so trained to behave in public that they don’t grab food off another’s plate, and we should be in control and not give in to tantrums.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Laughter and play are traits of a healthy family

My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training and I was on him constantly. One day we stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch in between errands. It was very busy, with a full dining room. While enjoying my taco, I smelled something funny, so I checked my seven-month-old daughter, and she was clean. Then I realized that Matt had not asked to go potty in a while, so I asked him, and he said, “No.” I thought, “Oh Lord, that child has had an accident and I don’t have any extra clothes with me.” Then I said, “Matt, are you sure you didn’t have an accident?” “No,” he replied irritably. I just knew that he must have because the smell was getting worse. Soooo . . . I asked one more time, “Matt, did you have an accident?” This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants, bent over and spread his cheeks and yelled, “SEE, MOM, IT’S JUST FARTS!!”

While 100 people nearly choked to death on their tacos, he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down to eat his food as if nothing happened. I was mortified . . . until some kind elderly people made me feel a lot better when they came over and thanked me for the best laugh they had ever had!

According to Dolores Curran in Traits of a Healthy Family, a sense of humor and play is one of the traits of a healthy family, whatever its arrangement. Trusting in ourselves as parents is crucial to be effective in adding humor and play to family life. We all want to be the best parents we can be. When we are preoccupied with getting it right or looking good, we lose our sense of humor and miss out on many opportunities to give and receive humor with our children. One of the greatest rewards of my work comes when parents lighten up with their children.

When my son was eight or nine years old, he often invited me to play Nintendo. I declined. I was an anti-Nintendo mom, and I didn’t think that form of play was valuable. I thought he should be playing with people rather than machines. One day I realized he was eagerly trying to contribute to the enjoyment of my life, and I was not being open to his contribution. I learned how to play and enjoy Dr. Mario, a Nintendo game. Pretty soon, he was telling me I was spending too much time in front of the television, playing Nintendo.

Learning to downhill ski was also a joy for me. When I drove Jesse to the slopes to ski, he would urge me to ski with him. I was content to watch from the chalet. It was such fun as he taught me how to get on and off the ski lift. I specifically recall the conversation in the car on the way to my first ski lesson. He shared with me his frustration with grownups who budge in front of children waiting in the checkout line at the store. I explained that sometimes adults treat children the way they were treated. He turned to me and said, “Well, you must have been treated pretty good then.” I passed that compliment on to my mother.