Friday, August 7, 2009

A Sense of Humor

One of the things that no child-rearing books seem to cover is just when a child is capable of understanding a joke.

A two-year-old can tease another human being, but that’s pretty rudimentary. It’s funny because it makes an adult laugh, but most kids don’t really understand why it’s amusing.

And then there’s our kid, who has figured out how to tell a joke.

Granted, her first “joke” was a pretty basic reversal tactic. For example:

Dad: Okay, should we go… that way? (Points left.)

Mihret: Nooo… that way. (Points right, then smiles.)

Dad: That way? (Left.)

Mihret: That way. (Right.)

Dad: That way? (Left.)

Mihret: That way? (Points up.)

As jokes go, that’s pretty elementary. But it’s clear that she gets that she’s telling a joke. Call it the toddler version of, “Take my wife… Please.” She knows that what makes a joke funny is to do the opposite of what’s expected.

Kara thinks our daughter is this way because I’m her dad, and I can’t disagree. But even I was shocked when she pulled out a second joke – and then later pulled out a variation on the same joke.

The Scene: Mihret is sitting in her swing in the backyard, while I am pushing.

Mihret: (singing) A-b-c-d-e-f-g-diaper-diaper-diaper-diaper…

Dad: (laughing…) What?

Mihret: (singing) A-b-c-d-e-f-g-diaper-diaper-diaper-diaper…

For those of you following along, my daughter has a) figured out that humor is found in the unexpected, and b) determined that potty humor is beloved by all.

Now, you could argue that someone taught her to sing the song that way, but let’s jump forward to later in the evening:

The Scene: Mihret is in the bath. Mama is sitting and reading the Noah story to Mihret, while Dad checks the computer.

Mihret: (singing) A-b-c-d-e-f-g-diaper-diaper-diaper-diaper…

Mama: What, honey?

Mihret: (singing) A-b-c-d-e-f-g-diaper-diaper-diaper-diaper…

Dad: She did that earlier. Our daughter has figured out how to tell a joke. It’s sort of eerie.

Mihret: (singing) A-b-c-d-e-f-g-birthday cake.

Dad: (Does a double-take.) That’s new…

So, to recap, our daughter not only knows that jokes are found in the unexpected, she realizes that eventually repeated jokes lose their power and you have to change up your game to make them work again.

Her teen years are going to be really entertaining or a complete train wreck.

- Josh

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