I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy, the gustatory inclinations of a 6-year-old and, at certain times of the month, can tantrum like a 2-year-old. I think the word poop is the most hilarious word in the English language. I can’t even type it without giggling. I get all verklempt when I meet the princesses at Disney World and my dream destination is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
Perhaps my juvenile home persona is a response to my rather serious day job. As soon as I don those work clothes I have to be taken seriously and take everything and everyone else seriously. The good news is: My children now join in the fun when I literally and figuratively kick off my work shoes.
My girls are 5 and 8. These are the golden years of parenting, when the kids are too old for diapers but too young for drama; the naps are over but the bedtimes are still relatively early; they can remove their own coats at the airport security line and are still happy to go on family vacations. I’m definitely in the sweet spot of my parenting career and am enjoying a grand old time having so much in common with my adorable charges and their friends.
Stack the Countries is an exceptional app that has taught both my children and me more than the average American adult knows about world geography. We’ve also decided that our favorite country to discuss is Djibouti. “How big is Djibouti? Is Djibouti smelly?” Simple electronics like a good ol’ calculator still have purpose in our digital age. What would childhood be without learning to type BOOBIES out of numbers?
If you’ve sent your child here for a play date and she’s now miming a crank while pushing pudding or Jell-O through her teeth, I’m really sorry (but not really, really sorry).
Sick days and long weekends are spent, or misspent, watching favorite movies from my youth like Grease. My little one outed me this week when she repeated Kenickie’s unforgettable line to her teacher, “Nobody’s jugs are bigger than Annette’s!” I suppose it could have been worse; she also knows the lyrics to “Greased Lightning.”
I’ve always maintained that for a number of parenting moments, if you don’t laugh you will surely cry. When you’re deep in the throws of potty training, ABBA’s “Super Trouper” just begs for new lyrics, doesn’t it?
Even for the 99% of parents more mature than I, these middle childhood years provide ample opportunity for stress-free hilarity. We as parents are now free to reveal more of ourselves to our children as they develop more complex personas and individualized likes and dislikes. Favorite novels can be read simultaneously or aloud together with new and improving readers. Classic jokes are rediscovered as the sense of humor matures beyond dropping food from the highchair. Sports can be played and watched with skill, understanding, and passion. My husband’s favorite exercise is biking the loop in Central Park with our older daughter and his favorite activity is watching the Patriots play while flanked by the two girls.
When you think back to your own childhood, you’re thinking of these amazing years between preschool and proms. More than at any other time in their lives, we are making the memories our children will carry with them into the minefields of the teen years and the void beyond empty nests. We should all be paying as much attention, expending as much effort to savor and record this time as we did their earliest days when we obsessed over ounces of breast milk or formula consumed and developmental milestones reached.
Lani Serota is the Upper East Side mother of two young girls, besotted wife, sleep aficionado (both her own and that of children), and celebrity child name enthusiast who loves a good giggle.