Joe Boughner: The Naked Dad


In Praise of Silly

She may be mommy's little girl but she's Daddy's little ham

In many ways, my kid is her mother's daughter. The kid's a spitting image of her mom at that age and they share many of the same quirks and idiosyncracies. 

But then she'll hide on the stairs, loudly stage whisper "Daddy, call the audience" then run into the room and leap on to her stool-turned-stage as the last of my "ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls" shouts fade into the air. She'll perform her latest dance routine, or work her impressive slapstick chops, or mangle her favourite knock knock jokes — pausing every few seconds with a sly smile to make sure the gathered masses are paying attention.

And in those moments, she's every inch my daughter.

I'm a big fan of silly. I come by it honestly. My maternal grandfather is a storyteller by nature ("it's not lying if you don't expect anyone to believe you," he likes to say) and both of my parents enjoy spinning a good yarn or working a room when given the chance. I grew up playing in bands and I always liked to have a mic to work the crowd, even though I was never a frontman in any traditional sense. Even in my work life, my colleagues would likely describe as gregarious and loud. 

My wife and I were both surprised that my daughter exhibits a shy streak when confronted with a new social situation. The same bouncing, dancing ham that lines up her dolls to be her audience when she and I practice our juggling is a wallflower at preschool. But, despite my outwardly extroverted personality, I too tended to be withdrawn in new environments growing up. At the same time as I was putting on shows and staging fake radio shows with my cousins, my parents had to literally drag me into my new school after we moved (sorry 'bout that, Mom and Dad). While I was doing lip sync routines with a wooden fake guitar cut out of plywood, I would have panic attacks at the thought of going out to a choir recital.

But as I got older, I got more confident. I'm still nervous at times and tend to be quieter or more withdrawn in certain situations but, on the whole, I've learned to be outgoing and social. How? By embracing my inner silly. I've grown comfortable in being a bit of a ham when the situation warrants, whether that be by cracking self-deprecating jokes as a public speaker or by strictly enforcing the office high five policy that I wrote and distribute to all new hires. 

So when I hear my kid shouting "ladies and genkle-men, boys and girls" I smile and think, that's it kid, embrace the silly. It'll serve you well.