Fun is universally relatable. Joking, tickling, playing, anything that generates laughter just had to be a pillar of the Watkins house. Having fun and being happy are positive winning emotions that I wanted my kids to feel. So taking a page from my parents Unwritten Parent Manual, I decided I wanted to be the CFO or the Chief Fun Officer.
My mom is famous for her sense of humor. She’s been making me laugh for as long as I can remember. Whenever she would say something like, “LeRoy do you remember the time you had milk in your water bottle?” or “Remember that time when we were in Nashville at the restaurant with dad?” or “Did I tell you the time when your dad and I went on a roller coaster?” You knew something funny was coming. With the way our mom communicated with us, it made it very easy to talk to her about anything. Something bad happened in school, we would tell mom. Something embarrassing happened, we would tell mom. You meet the nanny at Viking Sports, you would tell mom. You knew that she would not overreact, she would give you a big hug, and then diffuse the news with a funny antidote of some sort to the point where you knew everything was going to be ok.
In trying to emulate that kind of open environment with my kids I find myself saying things like, “did I ever tell you the time your grandfather put milk in my water bottle?” or “did I tell about the time we were eating with Gammy, Pop, and Aunt Candice in Nashville” or “If you think this ride is scary, did I tell you the time when Gammy and Pop went on a date to 6 Flags?”
Like my mom expertly using her humor to provide intellectual fun, I remember my dad always jumping in to physically have fun with us. There are countless nights where we would play basketball in the driveway with my dad, probably to the chagrin of our neighbors. If we went to the park to play soccer, he would come and play goalie. If we went to play baseball at the park, he would be the pitcher. Whenever he played with us, it just made it more fun. Now that I’m in his position, whenever I see my kids play I jump on in and they love it because I know adding dad makes it more fun.
Growing up with parents who showed us fun by example was vital to my upbringing. Fun builds love and I love my parents with all my heart. That is why I feel it is something every parent should incorporate in their parenting arsenal.