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Finding humor is hardest as a first-time parent. I took my first child too seriously, empathic toward his every slight. I took myself too seriously. Our children’s actions become a reflection on us. We forget they are separate, making their smallest offenses loom large. Perfectly normal behavior—not greeting Grandma, throwing non-projectiles, nose picking, loud voices in quiet places—seem rotten and rude. I could easily forget how little he was.
With experience, my humor began to flow. Maybe it was the birth of subsequent children. Maybe it came from gaining common sense; lightening up makes situations bearable, fun, and ultimately easier to move on from. By the time children outnumbered parents, my humor was set.
This is exemplified by our youngest, who loves broccoli. Except when he does not. One night, this toddler picked it off his plate and lunged it across the table: “I hate broccoli!” Instead of the stern parental response my firstborn might have received, he was met with his brothers’ laughter, and, “What an arm! Great throw.” No broccoli the next night for Mr. Strong Arm, and he demanded, “Where’s my broccoli? I love broccoli.” Different night. Changed desire. Humor required.
Or when our middle son announced he wanted a new mommy. “If you pick a new mommy, will you live with her?” I asked, noting that I would miss him. He was sure he would. He promised to come visit. We discussed whom he would want as his mommy. I ran down a list of contenders. He turned down several—“too old,” “yells,” or simply “not good.” He decided on one of our friends whom he deemed ideal, and he slept overnight (before she even had kids!). He was happy to return home to us, too.
We find Curious George, a mischief maker, funny. When our own child is the mischief maker, though, it doesn’t always seem so funny. We can take life as parents too seriously. Parenting is the best and hardest role any of us will assume. When I tap into my humor, the spilled milk, the footprints on the counter from the child who snuck cookies, or the drill-sergeant-like commando toddler on the loose in my home become funny, and fun. With a little perspective (mine) and a lot of laughter (ours), my children and I enjoy our time together even more.