This is Lalo.   

And this is Lalo.

That’s pronounced LAH-lo. Doesn’t it roll off the tongue? Isn’t it fun to say. That’s Lalo. He’s fun.He gets that from me. I’m fun. Or I used to be more fun. Then I became a mom and I got crankier and more worried and suddenly felt responsible and weighed down by all the emotions that are the opposite of fun.

Thankfully, kids are tiny factories of fun. They churn out fun ideas day and night. And Lalo is the Rockefeller of Fun. He helps me remember, in a big way, some of the rules for living a fun life.

1. Fun is where you least expect it.  Here are Lalo’s favorite toys. Yes, that’s an old pair of keys. And a broken twisty straw. He loves this small pile of trash so much that you know where I found it? Under his pillow. Lalo has toys. I know; I’ve purchased them. I agonized over the options, made a thoughtful choice, and gulped a little as I handed the clerk my credit card. But Lalo finds fun in the extraordinary, the unusual, the garbage can.What’s the lesson for me? Dive in, you never know what you are going to enjoy. The fun and the joy of parenting can be found in some surprising places–the 2 am wake up from a cuddly newborn, the diaper blowout so huge you have to take pictures, the 1000th ride to soccer practice, the impromptu tree climbing lesson. With a little imagination, even trash can become treasure.

 

2. Nothing is fun when you are tired.

Last year Lalo had red hair for Halloween. The next day he wanted to keep it red for preschool. But as you can see, he was too tired from the night before to enjoy anything, not even hair the color of fire!

What’s the lesson for me? Sleep, lady, sleep. I’m not an emergency room doctor or a firefighter. Everything in my job can wait until tomorrow. Just turn out the light and let it go.

 

 

 

3. Bugs are really fun. I don’t like bugs. Lalo loves them. And stinky mud,  mysterious slime and don’t forget rotten leaves floating in the gutter. The grosser the better.

What’s the lesson for me? Lighten up, already. You wouldn’t know it by looking, but I really love a clean car. Yet here are a few things you’ll find in the back seat: Some old socks full of sand, a collection of acorns, some smelly twigs we found rotting in the creek behind Grandma’s house, and some old grass that Lalo’s stuffed horse really wanted as a snack. It’s not a clean car, but it’s a fun car.

 

4. Fun is more fun when you share it with someone.

 

Lalo will play happily on his bed, with his trash/toys for hours. But when I come up and ask him if he wants some company, he will beam.

Lesson for me? Join in the fun! It’s such a small thing, to give of yourself. It’s a moment; it’s a “yes” instead of a “no”; it’s a pause instead of a rush past. That’s it. If I want fun, I have to let go of what I want to do, and instead listen to the tug of a small boy.

 

5. No matter how you slice it, chores aren’t fun.

Okay, before you decide that I’ve invented this wonderful, cheerful, fun-loving boy who never does anything wrong, let me assure you, Lalo has his faults. He does not like to clean up. I put on music or make it a game or speak in an extremely convincing “fun” tone of voice, but Lalo is not fooled. No way, lady. Dishes aren’t fun.

What’s the lesson for me? Not everything in life is going to be fun. Don’t get discouraged. Some days are really fun. Some days are really terrible. Most days are mind-numbingly in the middle. But as I listen to Lalo and follow his lead, I see fun coming into my life, like the shaft of afternoon sunlight that streams through my window. It’s small but intense, and it’s enough to warm up the entire room.

 

QUESTION: What do your kids teach you about living a fun life?

CHALLENGE: Write down three ways your children make your life more fun. Share the list with them.


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