I believe deeply in the power of “silly”! Silly was a cornerstone of my upbringing. I have wonderful memories of my mother and grandmother laughing until tears rolled down their faces – my grandmother pulling Kleenexes out of unmentionable places to dab at her eyes. My father once chased me several blocks to a friend’s house during a game of tag (I should add that I was a teenager at the time!). And my brother used to laugh so hard at the dinner table that he would literally throw himself from his chair. Don’t even get me started on his kitchen figure skating (he will kill me for sharing this!).
Let me back up a bit. What do I mean by “silly”? For me, it means laughter… it means letting your inner freak out… it means acting crazy and goofy without concern for what others might think.
The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old? Only 15! Kids are fantastic at silly. It is not until later in life that they learn to care what people think of them and reign in their silly. But while it lasts, there is no better sound in the world than that of a child laughing.
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones. Think back to the last time you laughed so hard that your stomach hurt. Wasn’t it the best feeling in the world? And didn’t it make you forget, at least temporarily, about all of your worries?
I was reminded of this feeling today as I was belting out Adele’s new song “Hello” in the car. Let me be clear, I was not blessed in the vocal department. But that doesn’t stop me – I love to sing and dance in the car. It makes me happy. More importantly, it ensures that my tendencies toward road rage are kept at bay 🙂 My daughter, who was sitting in the back seat, piped up to say: “Mommy, you’re not very good”. We then killed ourselves laughing.
My daughter embodies silly. She is shy, but once she gains a degree of comfort with someone, watch out! Her inner freak comes out with a vengeance! She has been known to sing made-up songs, do free-form poetry, invent stories, tell silly jokes and dance her heart out. There are times when I’m busy with day-to-day stuff and lose my patience with her. But truth be told, I admire her ability to let loose. And I recognize that I need to do everything I can to help foster her “silly”.
My husband and I regularly have tickle fights with the kids at bedtime. I’m quite certain that this is an ill-advised sleep ritual. Many would probably argue that it gets children riled up. And maybe it does… But I like to think that it sends them to bed with happy thoughts.
At this very moment, my husband is scooping out pumpkins with the kids in preparation for Halloween. I can hear them laughing and commenting on how the seeds and goop look like brain guts. I’m going to go join in on the silliness!
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing” – Michael Pritchard