Hey, dad, ask your teenager if the school principal ever said, “It’s about time you started goofing off.” Or has your boss at work ever said, “Quit working so hard. Goof off a little”? When was the last time someone at home ordered, “Get with it—goof off some.”? Sounds ridiculous, right?
We adults give each other that kind of advice all the time and it seems perfectly acceptable. We say things like, “Hey, it’s time you stopped working so hard.” “You deserve a break.” “Quit taking everything so seriously.” “Lighten up!” or “Relax! You need a vacation.” All of us get too caught up in the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute grind of living. We do take many things much too seriously.
Dad, go ahead, tell your teenager to goof off a little, to take a break. And goof off right along with him or her. Join forces and do something fun, silly, off the cuff. Find the nearest arcade. Play golf or tennis or go bowling. Rent a tandem bike. Blow the dust off the ball and gloves and play catch. Visit the nearest elementary school and get dizzy on the merry-go-round. Top it off with three scoops of ice cream … or flag down one of those musical ice cream trucks that haunt some of the suburbs.
Pull mom into the fray. (She may resist because “someone has to fold the laundry.”) Help her. Make a game of it. Play catch with socks … put them on your ears … tie several together and try shooting hook shots into the clothes basket. When mom throws a fit and bars you from the room, hit the frig and build a tall scrumptious sandwich. When mom threatens you with the iron skillet, promptly grab the sandwich, vacate the kitchen and have a picnic under a tree.
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Are you guys nuts? Well, maybe we all need to go a little nuts. Goofing off requires skill, imagination and finesse. It’s not malicious and nor ever intended to harm anyone. (Mom’s really laughing to herself.) It’s merely a prescription for letting off steam—for putting some life into your life. Doctors tell us that laughter produces a positive physiological effect on our bodies. It releases tension. And because of the changes it creates in our body chemistry, laughter can actually heal. So self-medicate. Goof off a little.