It seems that my tastes in wine and humour are similar: I enjoy each when mature and complex, but I am not above indulging in the unsophisticated and not entirely savoury. As the mother of a 14 and 11-year old, I occasionally partake in both.
During their early days, the type of humour that my kids engaged in consisted mostly of gut-busting laughter when a cup fell to the floor from a high chair, or a toy was tossed out of the crib.
Later, we endured countless knock knock jokes, non-stop bathroom humour, and many gags during which the parent answers a question, and the child announces, through uncontrollable fits of laughter, “Ha! It’s opposite day!”
As my kids get older, the mingling of their increasingly sophisticated thought processes with good taste has, thankfully, become more deliberate and refined. Unfortunately, though, they don’t always aim to hit the mark, opting instead for a type of humour that might be referred to as comically dysfunctional.
As the butt (haha, I said butt!) of many of their jokes, I am generally a pushover for what they dish out. Apparently, I am also a glutton for punishment, since I really do understand and (somewhat) appreciate the enjoyment the kids get out of pulling one over on the adults.
An example of my 14-year-old son’s current type of comedy is an announcement late on a Sunday night that he has homework. I’ll have been led to believe that he’d either completed said homework, or that he didn’t have any to begin with. Every time – the story always changes, but not the method of torment – he still gets me. As my eyes widen and I begin to carefully choose my words and measure my reaction, his face will slowly begin to crack a sly smile. “Just kidding!”
My daughter also thinks she’s pretty funny…which is actually a question I regularly pose to her. “You think you’re pretty funny, don’t you?” In fact, I ask this of both the children, and instead of replying, “Sorry, Mom,” with heads hung in shame, I am subjected to echoing guffaws, peppered by, “That was so funny” and, “You should have seen your face!”
This 11-year-old tyrant has a knack for jumping out from the least expected places, at the least expected times, startling me into emitting high pitched, barely- human noises, accompanied by contorted facial expressions. She lurks, ready to spring and shout, “Boo!” sending my near-resting heart rate skyrocketing. She then gleefully mimics the look on my face and, as I recover and my beats-per-minute resume normal levels, she dashes off to find her father and brother, who give her high fives as she re-enacts her ugly tale.
My son had a new teacher transfer to his class in February, and one evening she called our home, explaining that she wanted to become acquainted with her students’ parents. We briefly discussed how things were going with Nick, and I was aware that he was around the corner, straining to hear what was being said. Although there was nothing incriminating, after I hung up the phone, I told my husband that Nick had been behaving poorly in her class. Playing along, he suggested that, in Grade 8, shouldn’t a student know better, and if not, maybe this student shouldn’t be allowed to play in the upcoming hockey tournament.
I dramatically swung around to where Nick sat, stunned…and I flashed him my biggest, brightest smile.
We all laughed, and I savoured the sweet, smooth taste of victory…not at all upset that it was lacking maturity.
originally published in the Waterloo Region Record