I love this picture.
I had no part in suggesting it, setting it up, or taking it. I didn’t even hear about it from the kids. I just happened to be downloading photos when it caught my eye and made me laugh out loud. What a silly picture!
Too often I forget the value of silly. Our children have silly string, silly putty and Silly Songs with Larry (Larry is a cucumber. Very silly.) They make funny faces at each other, practice making funny sounds, and usually love a good knock knock joke. Me? I am usually making exasperated noises somewhere nearby and saying things like, “Sit still!” and “Pipe down!”
Of course our adult lives are–and need to be–carefully focused on the mundane and the practical. We have bills to pay, schedules to keep, responsibilities to live up to. Our silly kids need strong parents who teach them their manners and make sure they brush their teeth. Who’s got time for silly?
Then I read a study by the University of Oxford that was released last month. It actually said that we would all be better off if we found some time for silliness. They discovered that laughter releases brain chemicals which make us feel good, and can even increase our tolerance for pain and discomfort. The hitch is that it has to be genuine laughter–the relaxed, unforced kind that “creases the eyes”. A polite smile won’t do. Hence the need for silly!
Most of the people I know who could teach the art of silly are under the age of twelve. They are the ones who put underwear on their head and dance in the living room, stick straws up their nose at lunchtime and laugh for hours over a dog in a baby bonnet. They read books about green eggs and ham, laugh uproariously during watergun fights and take pictures of themselves on the lawn with basil hair. They have not yet un-learned the art of a good belly laugh.
Spending time with the under-twelve crowd is probably a good way to rediscover the benefits of laughter and reap the benefits of feel-good endorphins. Luckily, I have a head start on that because I live with kids who have some serious silly skills. But the basil-haired photo made me realize that the next step on the road to sillyville might not be so easy. I am going to have to lighten up on the “Would you stop that?” comments and start learning how to make fart noises in my own armpits. That might take some work.