Parents are hilarious teachers
My friend Kate Laddish tells a story of not believing her mom’s advice to wear green on St. Paddy’s day and the pinching that ensued. She didn’t believe her mom, not after the previous year’s unicorn in the garden story on April Fool’s Day. Kids are impressionable, and that’s partly why we love them. In their innocence, they act out outrageous, embarrassing tableaus.
Some of my funniest parenting moments have come from ruses. One ruse, thought up on a very long night before camping, was that my kids would need a teaspoon of Benadryl at 7 every night while camping in order to prevent ear infections.
Every night of every camping trip until high school, the kids lined up for their Benadryl and coincidentally, slept hard while the adults yucked it up around the camp fire. They really believed they needed it. No ear infections ensued.
One camping trip, our tent and my friend’s camper were across from the toilets. Someone hurked out a turd the size of a sourdough loaf. One by one the kids discovered the unflushable turd and spread word about going into stall number 2. We brought art supplies on our camping trips, so I encouraged them to make warning signs.
“SEE THE AMAZING TURD” is what they came up with.
We watched one after another child and adult enter the stall and flee in disgust. We even moved our camp chairs from the fire to watch the strangers and their shock.
Yes, alcohol was part of the parenting decisions. No, we wouldn’t make fun of people with large colon problems in real life, but this was camping. It’s the Selva Obscura of modern life.
My friend’s son, Deek, took to riding his bike around the campground, leading the pack of kids looking for someone capable of laying down something so stupendous. The kids came back with descriptions of possibilities. More laughter ensued.
Another parenting event came from my ex-husband. He taught my 6 year old two things over vacation. Well, probably more that two things, but two things he had to show the kids at school. One required pulling his arms into his shirt, sticking out his elbows like boobs and making circles with them in two directions. “This is what I learned in Las Vegas.”
He did this at circle time with Maestra Carmona, the most school-marmish of first grade teachers. How many kids did that at home that night? It was so hard not to laugh when I got Maestra’s phone call.
As parents, we are not supposed to laugh at those things. It might be that being fun and laughing at normal humor might spare the kid from the embarrassment of acting out the parent’s poor taste.
Yet, more than the loads of homework and the crooked outlines of letters on the page, I remember the moments when my kids were outrageous. Not cruel, or depraved in an outrageous way, but the times when in their innocence they played the Falstaff for us, which provided an emotional vacation from the seriousness of life.