This column first appeared on The Laughing Stork in August 2011.
A terrible thing happens when we grow up: we act like grown-ups. Instead of running through the neighbors’ sprinkler, we grumble about how much water they’re wasting. We leave the house with smartphones, not stuffed animals, and would never hold the hand of a person we just met at a playground, unless it was to lead her to the police station for acting suspiciously friendly.
Then we become parents, which you would think would make us even more responsible, but no…! Turns out, parenthood grants us with carte blanche to act like kids again — or, as some might say, like complete and utter buffoons. But the beautiful thing is, when you’re a parent, you no longer care what people think. Because the brain region once dedicated to decorum and inhibition has been redirected toward a more useful purpose, like doing whatever you can to distract your toddler from grabbing your glass of water and testing its durability against the restaurant wall.
Just the other day, Skye was furious with me because I requested that she not use my iPad as a Frisbee. After all, that’s what Daddy’s cell phone is for. So when I saw — WARNING! WARNING! — Skye’s back arching and foam frothing from her mouth, I did what any level-headed mom would do: I yelled, “Hey, Skylar! Look at me! I’m a frog!” and proceeded to crouch down and hop around while ribbiting with ferocity. This was outside the Banana Republic at a highly-trafficked outdoor mall.
You might think I would stop hopping once said toddler was properly distracted and foam ceased frothing, but if you did, you would be wrong. Because us parents not only use buffoonish behavior to distract our wayward kids, but we also use it to make them laugh. Oh yes, we love the sound of our kids’ laughter and will do anything — and I do mean anything — to keep it coming. Once I get a taste of that laughter, I’m like a crackhead in need of her next hit. Only instead of getting on my knees for a drug dealer, I’m getting on my knees and choo-chooing like a train for my kid.
Me: Puppet. Her: Puppeteer.
“Mo’! Mo’!” Skye giggled delightedly as I flapped my arms, which no frog in its right mind would ever do. (Key words: “In its right mind.”)
Bolstered by my two-year-old’s encouragement, I lowered my flapping frog arms and crawled on all fours to the Anthropologie display window.
“GROWL!” I bellowed, extending my “claws” at the headless mannequin in a cardigan.
“Mommy tiger. Mo’! Mo’!” Skye squealed, imitating me, the iPad now a distant memory.
“Horsie. Over there. Mommy kiss!”
I looked over at the life-sized horse statue, planted directly next to the Wetzel’s Pretzel stand with a line of people approximately as long as Delaware. Maybe even longer, like the length of a football field. And here’s the crazy thing: I make my way through that line of people and actually plant a wet, sloppy one on the horse statue.
Didn’t even call me in the morning. Hmpf. I guess I should have made it a Frencher.
Twirling my daughter to folk-pop music at Whole Foods. Wearing Dora stickers on my nose to Starbucks. Spontaneously sitting on the window ledge outside of the MAC store and singing “The Wheels on the Bus.” Pretending to eat Skye’s nose. Jumping in the sandbox at the park. Getting excited at the sound of a plane in the sky.
Getting to live life through the eyes of a two-year-old again, at an age when I can appreciate it, is awesome. And getting to live that life while also enjoying the occasional margarita, never having to sit in a diaper full of my own poop AND using my iPad as a Frisbee if I want to: even awesomer.