Thursday, November 15, 2012

Raising Funny Kids 15: Laughing It Off

A number of nonsensical, emotionally draining conflicts with teenagers need not ever arise. Take, for example, the longstanding debate on the merits of bed making. Recognizing my son's unique self-expression and artistic tendencies, I approach his room with the mindset I would when I walk through the doors of a Modern Art Museum, thinking to myself, "someone might actually consider this heap of clothes an artistic expression." 

When living in a contemporary artist's loft gets the best of my nerves, I simply walk in and move about (carefully) as if I'm looking for something. Then I leave when I can't find it. My son, trailing after me with a concerned look on his face, says, "Mom, don't worry, I'll clean it up this weekend." 

"Oh, thanks, but I don't really care about that. It's your room. I was just looking for your pillow." 

"Really, why?" he asks. 

"I thought I'd leave some money on it. I can see by the way you keep your room that you're an artist. I just thought I'd contribute to your art fund." 

He knows I'm kidding, but he's grateful that I choose humor instead of criticism or sarcasm as my mode of delivery. And frankly, I'm grateful, too. After all, stress goes both ways. It's not fun to criticize or reprehend our children. It's not fun to criticize anyone for that matter, which is why I try not to ever do it. If I do feel compelled to point out someone else's behavior, I usually ask myself a boatload of questions prior to doing so. Constructive criticism is different, but that's usually only follows when someone has asked my opinion on how to improve something. But I digress... 

I wouldn't claim that my kids' lives are entirely without stress, but when it comes to the simple stuff, I learned long ago that it's far easier to laugh things off rather than try to force upon young enquiring minds nonsensical constraints that hinder growth and the freedom to think, dream, and create. 

Given the rapid pace at which technology is unfolding into new and exciting domains of possibility, I'd much rather laugh off the little things, leaving me (and my kids) more energy to focus on the innumerable possibilities that await us all. It's rather difficult to soar through life when you allow yourself to be bogged down by an irrational need for perfectly made bed corners. 

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