Anyone who knows me also knows that humor, particularly playful banter, is very important to me. It's in my blood. It's how I was raised. And I've proudly passed the legacy of humor onto my son. Whether I was using paradoxical parenting ("don't forget to leave your room a mess before you go to school, sweetie!") or engaging in banter to diffuse a touchy situation (making sure he got home on time, monitoring his social media, etc.), parenting was made much easier because there was so much laughter in our home.
My son and I have many things in common -- we're both generally easy going and have a lot of similar interests. But we also have our differences, and it's these differences that could have led to some rather testy situations along the way. For instance, I am rather "indoorsy," and not a particular fan of many aspects of nature. My son, on the other hand, is an avid outdoorsman. His idea of a great family vacation is a trip to the rustic Northwoods of Wisconsin, whereas mine is a weekend spent at a luxury hotel in the city. My son can be rather messy at times, but I get anxious with too much clutter in my midst, and we shared a very small house, with only one bathroom. Also, I tended to be a rather overprotective parent, happy-go-lucky by day, monitoring mom by night, and that wasn't always appreciated by my very independent son.
We were a mother and son living under the same small roof in the 21st century. Banter was a must.
Our humor was never biting or mean though, and never of the passive aggressive sort. And we never used banter to keep our real feelings at bay. We had many wisdom-filled and philosophical talks over the years, and sometimes we did argue. But with so much humor in the air, the arguments weren't very serious, and were resolved rather quickly. Because of our mutual willingness to turn typically frustrating situations into entertaining fodder (often played out on social media), my time as a mom wasn't spent dealing with childhood control battles or adolescent stand-offs, rather, it was spent with a joy-filled heart and a whole lot of laughter.
So in an attempt to encourage parents (and kids) everywhere to consider the importance of incorporating silliness and banter into their everyday lives, I present a sampling of my son's and my various banter-filled exchanges over the years.
On monitoring his social media:
On parenting my messy child:
On sharing a bathroom:
On our different vacation styles:
On trying to score some free coffee:
On my son's ability to communicate effectively:
On my spontaneous expressions of love:
On monitoring his whereabouts:
On trying to keep up with my son's environmental friendliness:
On giving him instructions via iPhone's Siri:
On his first day of college in a state far, far away:
My son's been gone for over two years and I miss him and our humorous banter every single day. As I've reflected on this past 20 years as a mom to my only son, I realized that as the years went by my son increasingly used humorous banter to manage me, in much the same way that I'd used it to manage him. My use of humor when my son was younger helped him to deal with a range of challenging situations. As he grew up, and increasingly away, he used humor to help me as well. And for that, I am eternally grateful.