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Mom Gave Me the Gift of Play

She taught us that giggling and goofing around are good for you at any age

By Pamela Zitron

(This article previously appeared on

When most people talk about play, they think of children. I think of my mom.

She's the one who taught me that goofing around, giggling, screaming with delight, laughing so hard no sound comes out, doing a silly dance, jumping in a pile of leaves, expressing yourself for pure enjoyment whether through art or dance or any of a thousand other ways is something you can — and should — do at any age. 

Laugh-play, that’s my Mom.  She has such a cute little girl. Oh, wait, I bet you think I’m talking about me! Nope. I’m talking about the little girl that’s inside her. I have known her little girl since I was a little girl.

A Case of the Giggles

Mom was a single parent. On most Sunday mornings my two sisters and I would pile into her double bed, which at the time seemed enormous. The biggest fight we had was who was getting each side of her.

“You were there last time, Susan. It’s my turn," I’d say.  

Mom would intervene and figure it out, then we’d settle down and wrap ourselves around each other. We would giggle and laugh and talk about silly things. She was as silly as we were. At our goofiest we would make up games and songs. She would tell us the whole story about musicals such as  South Pacific or My Fair Lady and transport us to wonderful places.

As we aged, subjects were added, like taking care of ourselves as young women.

I remember the first time Mom told Susan it was OK for her to pluck her eyebrows, then looked at Susan and said,  “Susan, what happened to your eyebrows?” Hence laughing so hard no sound came out.

I visited Mom a few weeks ago (right before her 96th birthday). When I awoke the first morning my little girl was all excited to jump in bed with Mom and her little girl, which is exactly what I did!


As we were snuggling she said to me, “Too bad we don’t have a paper route. I could fold them, you could throw them!” Once again laughter, giggling and goofing commenced.

The Child Inside

I believe that the little boy or little girl we once were still lives within us. I am amazed to learn that many people are surprised when I say that.

My friend Ann Ranson is one of those people. I was telling her a story about Mom’s little girl and she said, “Wait, your Mom has a little girl?" 

Ann had always talked about playing more and creating more and I explained that we all have a child inside of us. 

I saw her recently and, boy, has she tapped into her little girl. She sets a timer and when it goes off, music plays. That’s her time to dance around her house. She also has carved out a space to create her art and recently was accepted into a show at a local cultural center.

So, I say to you, get reacquainted with that little person. Experiment. Give yourself permission to be a goofball, laugh, sing, dance, scream with joy and giggle with abandon!

And if you are a parent or grandparent with young children, show them that play and laughter are wonderful things. Play with them. It's the gift that lasts a lifetime. Thank you, Mom!

Pamela Zitron is a writer, a rower and in her late 60s. She is currently working on a book inspiring agelessness using her 95-year-old mother as her role model. Like her Facebook page here. Read More
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