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Laughing Our Way Into The Teen Years

Laughing through the teen years

“So you’re telling me, that if you saw Adolf Hilter walking down the street, you wouldn’t kill him?”

“Well that’s not what I was saying. But sure, let’s talk about this…entirely new topic”.

My fourteen year old daughter has had a quick wit that belied her age since I was still snapping buttons around her butt. Her near perfect comedic timing and biting sarcasm came online next, just as the pacifier fell out of her mouth for the final time.

It was clear that my first born child was destined to love comedy, but with few exceptions (Bill Harley’s Grammy nominated stories & songs and kindie musician Billy Kelly’s first comedy album, most notably) comedy for kids is about as funny as lemon juice in a open wound.

Thanks to a recommendation from a trusted 8th grade classmate, my funny teen discovered and quickly fell in love with the sketch comedy of Studio C, a Utah-based troupe flooding their wildly popular YouTube channel with short, smart bits bouncing between pop culture spoofs and hilarious original scenarios designed for all-ages of eyeballs. I then told her that when I was only a few years older than she is now, I loved a sketch comedy show too. That’s when I introduced her to MTV’s The State, and suddenly we were swapping favorite sketches, gut laughing together, and developing a new kind of secret one-liner lingo.

Circumnavigating an oft-bitter, maddening 21st century world while also playing dodgeball with puberty, social media posturing, confusing new desires, a first job, and a burgeoning personal independence is serious business; however, playing it serious all of the time is destined to up the anxiety levels in kids and adults alike.

This is why my 14-year-old daughter and I are laughing our way into the teen years.

All ages of childhood are a mixed bag of struggle and joy but parents usually drop all consideration of the rewards inherent in raising a teenager. Instead, the focus is squarely on the fear implanted in us dads and moms at every turn — drugs, drinking, unprotected sex, vaping or whatever the hell JUULing is, eating TIDE Pods and snorting condoms, texting while driving, and worse of all, neck tattoos.

If you spend as much time as I do surrounded by other parents on social media you’ve surely seen a barrage of ‘I wish they could stay little forever’ sentiments shared around the internet. Maybe you’ve even posted something similar on Facebook a few times yourself. Listen, I get it and I don’t blame you for reveling in the baby years. Everything seems to be less confusing when our children are small and neck tattoos aren’t yet an issue, but things aren’t necessarily better.

After fourteen years as a parent, I’ve discovered that nothing is better than quoting John Mulaney’s hilarious Hilter bit with my oldest kid, going out to concerts on school nights with her, and having honest conversations about sex, dating, and other really real life situations that she already understands (even if, honestly, I’d sometimes rather pretend she doesn’t). My teenager desperately needs to know that I am comfortable having an open dialogue with her about whatever she needs to talk about, whenever and wherever she needs to talk about it, throughout the rest of her teen years. And I desperately want her to know that I am.

Let’s be honest though, after talking about sex, drugs and neck tattoos with my kid, a riotous sketch comedy routine about soccer shootout penalty kick saves with Scott Sterling is indeed the entirely new topic she and I will need to talk about as we laugh our way into and through her teen years.

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