Fake Crying Parties

My kids love to fake cry now, which is great because clearly there isn’t enough pointless weeping around here. Last night during dinner — which is really more of a floor decorating ritual  — my 2 and 4 year-old were having a fun time practicing how they might react if I took away a harmonica or collapsed the trampoline.  They would each cry, then look at each other and laugh hysterically. Lindsay joined them, and suddenly I was sitting at a table with three bi-polar maniacs.

They say families that play together stay together and  we all know that aphorisms are more likely to be true if they rhyme, so I joined in. I was determined to deliver the highest quality fake cry possible. Generally, men don’t weep very well. When we really let go, it’s a pathetic gasping and heaving that sounds more like we’re vomiting regrets than having a tender emotional moment. I have 3 speeds of sadness: not sad, slightly teary, or completely heaving. My wife has hundreds of speeds, each of which is uniquely intimidating. She was using one on the tamer end of the scale —  a harmless whimpering aimed at having a comedic effect.

I’m unable to conjure tears on command, so, having only one other sadness gear, I had no choice but to go with full-on blubbery heaving. And I nailed it. As my family was having a nice time pretending to cry and then laughing about it, I cut in with an “I just found out my girlfriend is cheating on me” wail. It was my moment to shine, and I seized the shit out of it.

I was in my own world, emotionally connected to my scene, and also slightly deafened by my own voice. While I was gasping for air, choking, and screaming “why!”, I failed to notice that everyone else had fallen silent and was staring at me. My children have never seen me sob. In fact, I’m not even certain my wife has. It’s something men do privately in their cars with a double cheese burger and biggie fries in their lap.

I had made a fun situation scary and serious, like the jackass friend who swings too hard during a pillow fight. What began as a game, quickly turned into, “What the hell is daddy doing?” After Lindsay told me to stop, I collected myself, and proudly proclaimed, “That is how I cry.” Once my children stopped quivering, and I took Lindsay’s advice to stop screaming “why?”, we all cried and laughed together.

I still feel slightly awkward, not because I over-commited to the crying game, but because our neighbors were in their yard and probably heard us…on Easter no less. There’s a brown Dodge Neon in front of our house, which I can only assume is social services. We’ll be in hiding until fall.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here http://bit.ly/1exfm34. Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

7 comments On Fake Crying Parties

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  • Ugh, my mother is one of those people who starts crying when she laughs too hard. It's as if she can't really find the line between really happy or really sad. I remember being really confused by it/her when I was young. Now I try not to be be too hilarious around her…just in case.

  • I literally laughed until I cried.

    • And, when I read this out loud to my husband J, he followed it up by informing me that the child spent 15 minutes weeping at bedtime because his pre-bedtime mini-Babybel cheese had been delivered in a partially unwrapped stage, as opposed to a fully wrapped one.

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