Seize the Day

Spend the afternoon; you can’t take it with you.
—Annie Dillard

Most kids—teens included—love it when their parents play with them once in a while, especially when it’s silly, spontaneous, or both. Play can be a way to promote healthy risk-taking, something that young people need to experience in order to test their own capabilities, learn new skills and competencies, and discover that they can feel high, excited, have an adrenaline rush, sense of accomplishment, or (uncontrollable) laughter without drugs or alcohol.

Here are some slightly silly ideas—these will give you the picture of what we mean, and you can take it from there.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Go to a park and play with your child on all of the equipment.
    • Finger paint with chocolate pudding. Be ready for a tasty mess!
    • Watch for cracks in the sidewalks or road and jump over them.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Go bowling (especially “cosmic” bowling with white lights, if available). Upon request, many bowling alleys can add inflatable bumpers to the gutters to make bowling more fun for small kids.
    • Have a “Wacky Hair Day” with your child, and be sure to include an outing in public!
    • Visit a water park together, and try out the slides, fountains, and other features. If this isn’t an option, do some other “new” kind of swimming, such as lake or ocean swimming, if your child has only been swimming in a pool (or vice versa).
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Create a humorous PowerPoint presentation together about your family or pet. Show it to your family or friends. (Chances are your child will know how to use the software even if you don’t, and the bonus is that you allow your child to teach you something new.)
    • Visit an amusement park or the local fair and find rides that you can enjoy together.
    • Ask your kids to teach you a game or skill they enjoy. Whatever it is, try it yourself for at least five minutes.
    • Buy sidewalk chalk, and write and draw all over your driveway or sidewalk with your child. You can play word games, create imaginary blueprints, and illustrate famous artworks inside elaborate chalk frames! If your child feels too old for this activity, encourage her or him to write messages for someone who will really appreciate them (such as a grandparent, younger sibling, or neighborhood child).
    • Hold a spur-of-the-moment water balloon, snowball, or pillow fight.
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Look for a family-friendly comedy club or variety show in your area (local high schools and community theaters are good sources).
    • Have a family photo session—only goofy expressions allowed—and view the pictures together.
    • Temporarily trade MP3s or iPods with your child and listen to each other’s music. No reviews allowed! If sharing all the music is too embarrassing, then each of you can choose just a few songs to play for each other on a family music night.
  • Rent a comedy movie you’ve all wanted to see. Pop up a big batch of popcorn to share and enjoy!

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