Last week at playgroup we experienced the scene that starts this post and I was suddenly struck by the similarities between getting through playgroup and getting through an improv comedy routine. I think that at some point it could make a pretty funny essay, but for now it is the seed of an idea, which is what you are getting here. If you have any “improv motherhood” experiences you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them. In the mean time, at least this is short. 🙂
“Okay, your turn, what’s on the bus?”
A dozen pairs of eyes, mothers and children, are on the three-year-old with ribbons in her hair. Will she pick the horn? The driver? The babies? The daddies?
She thinks for a minute. The children are losing interest. The mothers are willing her to pick something already. Finally, she breaks the silence.
“Um . . . the spiders on the bus!”
“The spiders on the bus?” one mom asks, eyes wide. For a moment I think someone will ask her if she thought we were singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” But we don’t have time for interrogations.
“Hmmm. Okay! What does the spider do on the bus? Maybe ‘creepy-crawl’?”
“Yeah!” the girl agrees.
“I know if I was on that bus, I’m not any more!” another mom jokes as we get our “crawly” hands ready and, all at once, start singing again.
“The spiders on the bus go creepy-crawl, creepy-crawl, creepy-crawl. The spiders on the bus go creepy-crawl all through the town.”
For a moment I wonder where I am, a playgroup, or an improv comedy club where the cardinal rule is to say “Yes!” to anything that happens. Say no and the comedy is killed, the fun is gone, the children are defeated and crying.
So we go with it. Not always, but often. Motherhood, among so many other things, is an improv comedy act where we try to pull together the pieces of nonsense we are handed every few minutes.
Yes! I want a banana.
No, take that banana off my granola!
Okay, I’ll put it in my bowl instead!
Wait, where are you taking that banana! It’s mine! Put it back!
And here you are sir! Your banana, just as good as new!
It’s a challenge, an adventure, a mind-stretching game, an exercise in patience. And, if handled correctly, can be so much fun. Like wearing a hoodie backward and walking around the house.
Or maybe like riding through the town on a bus full of spiders.
Either one, depending on the day.