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.
Darn it, Mom, I am acting my age.
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.
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!