Sense of humour required


MJ Marshall
Focus on Adoption magazine

Passing "Perfect Parenting 101" requires humility and an occasional case of the giggles.

When I take a critical look at our parenting methods, there’s certainly a lot to laugh at. I have to admit that when we first entered this gig called parenting, we were much more serious and reserved. Yes, we laughed at first giggles and raspberries, and played rousing games of peek-a-boo; but the idea of laughing as an aid in discipline, or joking about a gaping wound, is something I would have put on my “never” list of parenting tactics.

Eight years and four kids later, I can assure you that discussions of possible amputation at first sight of blood and the daily exchange: “Honey, I lost the kids. Oh well, at least it’ll cut down on the food bill,” are just small doses of the humour that gets us through our crazy and fun-filled days.

As I was playing at the park with my fabulous foursome the other day, another parent brought the shift in my parenting style into perspective by commenting on how relaxed I was as our almost two-year-old leaned unsteadily into the duck pond, the girls balanced precariously over a stream in the bushes and our oldest removed his shoes to get a closer look at a bullfrog.

“I wasn’t always this way,” I replied, feeling defensive.

I’m not sure why I need this stranger to know that I was once an idyllic supervigilant and well-planned mother. Perhaps it’s so I can laugh with confidence as I scoop the baby out of the pond or, maybe, it’s a way of keeping my secret that parenting four with humour is in fact easier and more enjoyable than parenting one with staunch perfection.

In stark contrast, today even the “never” list is cause for laughter. Amongst our original top three we had in reality written, “Never say no”! As many of you can imagine, that lasted precisely 18 months. We also cloth diapered, made our own baby food from organic produce, and didn’t have television. If our own parenting naiveté isn’t worth laughing at I don’t know what is.

Yes, our youngest may someday feel deprived given the great shift in our parenting style, but, so far, at age two, he’s a cheerful soul with an uncanny sense of humour (you should see him shoot peas out of his nose for a laugh), a fantastic eater (the highchair is no longer spotless), suntanned (he loves to sit topside on a cruising sailboat), and a messy-haired beauty (did we even brush it this morning?), with a strapping immune system (no doubt thanks to the duck droppings and banana slugs that have graced his little lips).

In addition to parenting with laughter, we have come to realize that our adult world is much more functional and tolerable with humour in the mix. Being able to see natural comedy in your workplace or in extended family gatherings helps to put adults at ease the same way a good laugh brings children back to a natural and comfortable state.

We all know that laughter makes us feel good and research has long shown that it’s great for the body and mind. So the next time Johnny is having a tough time getting into bed, tears are streaming down his face, and frustration is brewing in your tired mind… try a tickle or pretend to be so tired that you fall fast asleep snoring loudly next to him. Going to bed with a giggle will make for better nights and great mornings. I double dog dare you!