My son is now 11 years old. He is kind, witty, clever, curious, crafty and artsy, intelligent and thoughtful and VERY funny. He is my constant reminder to be playful. Kids need us to make them laugh as much as they make us laugh.
As parents, sometimes we forget how important that is. Parenting requires a lot of work, time and energy and as we all know, can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
What I have discovered is there are many ways for both parents and children to recharge and the most fun way is through humor and silliness.
One of my latest playful moves is to greet Eli with a cheer upon his entrance home from school. He loves this now (maybe not for much longer) and it always makes him smile. E - L - I (insert body shaped letters).... ELI!!
He now has a cheer for me too. M - O - M .... MOM!! Imagine if someone greeted you with a cheer after your long day of responsibilities! I would bet you'd join in too.
When I notice Eli feeling grumpy, I start a game of chase around the house. We giggle and hide and bat at each other. Even Max, our dog, joins in for the excitement. It changes his energetic state instantly. And mine too.
Wrestling is another way I like to engage Eli in play. It is definitely a mood lifter. We have always wrestled as a family. Our karate matches are super exciting. I have some mean high kicks and sweet kung fu tricks. And he has some good tips on pressure points.
We play music around the house quite often and when I hear a groovy tune, I can't help but move my body to the beat. Eli will usually join in and sometimes will lead me in a do - si - do or a sweet lil' waltz. This is one of my favorite forms of play.
As an observer of myself in these moments with my son, I realize more deeply the importance of my job as a parent. It is my responsibility, not Eli's, to lean in. To ask subtle questions, to share with him my experiences, my joys and my sorrows, to hold space for him always and to make him laugh.
All without the expectation that he should have to lean in closer to me first for anything. No matter how old he is. No matter how much he tells me he doesn't want me around.
I will give him space, but I will not stay away. I will initiate texts and phone calls. I will remind myself not to take it personally when he wants to distance himself from me or his dad. And I will always try to stay lighthearted and playful. This is my promise to myself and to my son.