5-Minute-Fun, Excerpt: The Power of Parent-Child Play, parenting, parents

Mom Plays the Fool; Baby Giggles

Quite a few parents have asked me, “What qualifies as play?” as if there were one answer.  One dictionary defines the word playful as:

“high spirits, gaiety, and humor in action or speech.”

Hmmm. Fun is a key element!

Do you have fun with your children? Do they have fun with you? And how do you do that?

Let’s look at one bunch of intriguing synonyms for play:

“. . . cut up, be the life of the party, play the fool, carry on.”

Playing the fool may be tough for you if you struggle with spontaneity. Yet it can be learned, and I believe it is worth learning. You don’t have to truly be a fool, but you can be willing to look a little silly on occasion in order to connect with others in a fun way. Silliness comes easier if you start with babies. Merely sticking a shoe on your head makes a baby laugh, because he’s learned just enough about the way the world works to know that sneakers make ridiculous hats.

One evening when my son Tyler was six months old, he was trying desperately hard to crawl, but just couldn’t get it. Instead, he flopped about like a fish out of water…

So—impulsively—I threw myself to the floor, copying his weird crawling attempts. I asked him, “Is this how you do it?”

That little six-month-old baby began to belly-laugh hysterically. He was literally holding his little gut, gasping for air between giggles. Gordy heard his baby’s roaring laughter from the other room, and insisted that I do the Fish Flop again, in front of him.

Well, as a mother you can’t sink much lower than flopping about on the carpet on your belly. But I was destined for silliness from that point on, doing anything it took to get a giggle from a child—a lovely, musical sound. And yes, my husband still respects me.

Are you willing to play the fool on occasion to make a child laugh?  And if so, what’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done to get your baby to giggle?

I think it’s worth it.

Play On!


Excerpt from The Power of  Parent-Child Play.  All Rights Reserved.  Dictionary definition: New World Dictionaries (Paramus, N.J.: Prentice Hall Press, 1971).  Thesaurus: Webster’s New World Thesaurus, Revised Edition (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985).

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