By Jennifer Outcelt, RISQ Consulting Account Specialist
In your youth, did you vow to never, EVER be like your parents? And now, do think your parents are some of the most remarkable people you’ve ever known?
I recently had a child of my own and the thought dawned on me, “How can I learn from my own parents to be the best parent for my daughter?”. In contemplating my own upbringing, I decided to let you in on a part of my core personality that will undoubtedly influence how I rear spawn of my own. So how about I tell you about the people who created me? *bow-chicka-bow-wow* OK, I promise we won’t go that far back, but I want to introduce you to one half of my parental unit, my dad. I want to tell you why I feared becoming my dad and why I am now thrilled that I have.
My dad used to have this reoccurring dream. He would be eating a giant marshmallow, and when he woke up, his pillow would be gone! Funny right? Well try hearing that once a week your entire life.
Growing up, my dad, Karl, was what most dads seemed to be; A dad jokester. But that was just the tip of the iceberg… just a piece of the puzzle, just one ingredient in… well, you get the point. My father was exhaustingly… hilarious… to himself. He had a plethora of ready to wear jokes and anecdotes to amuse the masses (whether they wanted it or not). My family called them Karlisms.
*clear throat* “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” “Don’t use force get a bigger hammer” “Two wrongs don’t make a right but three lefts do”
These Karlisms were heard, ad-nauseam, in perpetuity. As a little kid they were funny. As a teenager, they were annoying. I had heard them all. Why did he bother?! But he didn’t say them just for us. He said them for the people around us. In line at the store, at my mom’s work functions, to my friend’s parents at Girl Scout meetings.
*clear throat* “There are only three kinds of people in this world, those who are good with numbers, and those who are not” “Time flies like the wind, but fruit flies like bananas.”
I was surrounded by smiles and good cheer, BLAAH! Kryptonite for a teenager! “OMG dad, you’re so lame!” I was embarrassed when he didn’t say the bare minimum. I was embarrassed at how long he joked with people. I feared his jokes would become so ingrained in me that I would someday become this walking cliché. I told myself I would not be like that, and I would not waste my time acting like a doofuss.
Fast forward to toady… that is all I do. My name is Jennifer and I am a DOOFUSS! (Hello, Jennifer) I make silly dad jokes and I like it!
What I didn’t know growing up (because I truly had it good) was that being an adult is freaking hard! Seeing how many things in the world you can’t control is scary. You see all the hypocrisy and all the bad. But even scarier is seeing how many people are crippled by their inability to detach from the negative or enact positive change.
As a teenager, I was mortified when my dad was asked a simple yes or no question and instead he replied, “Definitely, maybe not, probably so, could be, you never know, then again you can’t be sure, but then again on the other hand it might not be, but let me be perfectly clear when I say this about that…”
But now… that answer is hilarious. Because I’ve learned that it’s never yes or no and it’s hilarious to think you know anything for certain. My father makes light of the world and the uncertainties in it. He uses humor as an antidote. You will never get a completely serious answer from him; a trait I’m proud to carry and hope to pass on. Because I would much rather break the script and make people laugh if it means they have a better day. Life is too short not to laugh and it is too boring to look at the world in black and white.
I hope we can all agree that I’m not that old (30 is the new 20 I think). I don’t have many decades of personally cultured wisdom to drip like a fine wine into your ears. But what I do have is the ability to look at myself… then look at my dad, then look at myself, then back at my dad… and see, that apart from the baldness *wipe brow* (whew!), we are a ton alike.
And this “becoming my father” is not the disaster I thought it’d be. It is because of my father that I find humor in mundane things. He’s the reason I can smile and laugh through all of my mistakes. I’m not afraid to tell a joke. I’m not afraid to make a friend. And I’m definitely not afraid to make fun of myself.
What my dad knows is that humor, no matter how corny, is infectious and a smile spreads like wildfire. I once vowed to never be like my father because I saw his antics as a weakness. I know now that my father (one of the most remarkable people I know) uses his humor to keep himself and those around him strong. That’s the kind of parent I want to be. And I don’t mind being a clown… if it turns a frown… upside down.