Monday, November 18, 2013

On being silly (again)

I first posted this in October 2009, and I think of it often. It was my first introspective piece, on a skill I was happily incorporating into my life. 

I don't know how old I was when my mother started telling me, "Don't be silly," and "Act your age," but by the time I was a teenager I had pretty much translated the message into "Be dignified at all times." The St. Paul Saints have a slogan, "Fun is Good," and once they sold a shirt that said "B Silly," but before I realized that it was the perfect antidote to my internal voices, it sold out.

Still, I did learn to relax and take chances and let loose once in a while. And I've taken it to new heights with the grandbabies. I make up silly songs and do wacky dances and roll around on the floor and wear goofy hats (not to mention bowls and other things-that-aren't-hats) for their amusement and participation. Yesterday when Augie said, "C'mon, Grandma, jump on my bed with me," I did (cautiously, of course). A few months ago on a blustery day in New York, we went to the theater, but I also stopped to pose with Elmo (he was posing with tourists for a dollar). The kids were briefly VERY impressed. These days I think to myself, Darn it, Mom, I am acting my age.

Ironically, when my mom was 55 or 60, her older sister told her one day to "stop acting silly," and she was stung by the criticism. She did have a hint of a silly streak, and it was part of the reason people liked her. It helped her reach out to people, put them at ease, and generate a good time. At my 8th grade picnic at a lakeside pavilion, the jukebox didn't work so my mother started a rousing chorus of "Roll Out the Barrel." Kids loved it; lots of them got up and danced the hop-twice-on-each-foot ordeal we called the polka. On that day, I was embarrassed by her "silliness," but I was just-turned-14, so it doesn't count. If she were alive today, I think we'd both get silly with the little ones.

Bottom line, some silliness is good. Lots of silliness might even be better. Fun is definitely good. And while I'm all for ensuring children's safety and good behavior, I hope I never hear myself telling a child to "act your age" or "stop being silly." We need to be able to drop our pretenses sometimes, to let the inner child show through, to risk looking foolish, to try out ideas that might fail...or might succeed in unimaginable ways. B silly.

P.S. The kids are no longer babies, but we still dress up, dance around, play games. We may not be quite as silly as when they were tiny toddlers but we never stop ourselves because of embarrassment. To me, that's a big Win! 


14 comments:

joeh said...

Someday I'll post a video of me and my toddler g-sons popping corn and doing the "Pop-corn dance."

Ms Sparrow said...

Shortly after I was married, I was at my folks house when my "old maid" aunt was visiting. We had a heavy rain storm in the evening and the nightcrawlers were out in force. My younger siblings and I all took our shoes off and went outside to collect nightcrawlers for my brothers who sold them as bait. When I came back inside, my aunt was quick to shame me for being so silly now that I was a married lady. It stung, even though it was great fun. If I had a chance, I'd love to go nightcrawler hunting again!

Grandmother (Mary) said...

Be silly- often and loudly. And encourage the grands to do the same, even learn from them how to do it better. What great advice! We need to have this as a course in school with exams and prizes offered!

Stephen Hayes said...

I think being silly and having a whimsical outlook on life is the real Fountain of Youth. Great post. In 2009 I didn't even know what a blog was so I'm glad you reposted this. Take care.

DJan said...

Thanks for the repost. I think I should go back and look for some of my gems, too, so I can share them with my blogging family. Glad you know we are related, Nancy! :-)

Pauline Persing said...

If we are lucky we will grow up to be children.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Wonderful repost! Glad you have come to grips with feeling silly and being okay with it!
I am often told I am not serious enough, I can usually find humor someplace.
Guess that makes me a silly old woman..and I am happy with that! Sounds like I am in good company:)

Meryl Baer said...

It is wonderful that we can be silly with the grandkids. Too often we were too busy, too tired, or too preoccupied to be relaxed and silly with our kids.
Enjoy! - No matter what the grandkids age or your age.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I love to be silly. So much more fun than serious. I think our mothers and grandmothers grew up in a different generation - of always being presentable. Didn't take for me. Oh, I can behave when I have to, but so much more fun to be silly.

Jeanie said...

I think that as we get older having a sense of humor about it is part of what gets us through....adding a little silly along the way makes it all the better, especially when the silly is shared with grandkids.
A good reminder that "acting our age" is not always such a good thing.

Retired English Teacher said...

I long for the days when we were all silly together as a family. There was a time when I was the silliest of all. It is time we all rediscovered our inner silliness as a family. Laughing is good for the soul.

I am one that eschews excessive silliness. I think because we have family members (extended) who seem to just act stupid silly for attention. I like to see silliness that is witty or shows someone just having a good time and stepping out of the ordinary mundane reactions to life.

I think you are using your silliness in just the right way. Keep it up.

Teresa Evangeline said...

This world could use a whole lot more silliness and joy. It's interesting how people will become embarrassed by certain expressions of it. We are all taught, to varying degrees, that only so much silliness is acceptable. Maybe we need to stretch those boundaries.

Jeanie said...

I love this post! I am ALL for silly. Silly brings joy and joy brings more joy! So silly up and have fun! And share the silly! The world will love you for it!

Kc W said...

What a wonderful post! Some of the best things about being a Grandma are that I get to ride bikes, blow bubbles, swing, slide, march in her band and all kinds of other silliness!

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