“Penny, don’t tell your father he’s a bad singer,” my wife gently chided our daughter. We try not to say negative things about each other or other people in general. But, as Allie well knows, our family motto is: If you don’t have anything nice to say, at least make it funny. If we had a coat of arms it would be transcribed with the Latin phrase E Pluribus Sarcas-unum and our crest would be the winky smiley face emoticon. 😉 Maybe Penny wasn’t being nice, but she was being funny. It was a callback.
“It’s cool,” I explained. “We were doing a bit, earlier. I was telling Penny that maybe someday she’d have as beautiful a voice as me…if she kept practicing. And then I’d sing, but like really bad. Even worse than normal.” Eh, I guess you had to be there. All I know is that Penny and I were cracking each other up! When I launched into my silliness and insulted her singing at the expense of my own, she didn’t have to ask if I was joking. She knew. Kidding is kind of our thing.
Penny gets me. So does Simon. They’re eight and four, respectively, and they get humor. They get sarcasm better than 90% of the people on the internet. The get and keep up with comedic bits, for crying out loud!
Making each other laugh, trying to find the humor is situations, is something I value. I don’t know if it’s a lesson I tried to actively impart on my children or if they just kind of picked it up.
Simon is the undisputed clown of his class. Even if what he’s saying isn’t actually funny, he knows the tone of a joke; he sets it up and nails the punchline. Penny was the same way in pre-K. I remember overhearing her explain sarcasm to her classmates, thinking “I’m not so sure that’s a good thing,” as I laughed and started singing “Another Brick in the Wall.” These days, whenever Penny has a sleepover with one of her friends they work on The Comedy Show. Not a super original name and, TRUST ME, the show needs work, but that’s what they do for fun. And I could not be prouder.
Of course, I’m contemplating absolutely none of this every single morning, as Allie and I do our best to herd the kids into car for school. HOMEWORK…IS IT PACKED? HAIR AND TEETH BRUSHED? WHY ARE YOU ONLY WEARING ONE SHOE!? I DON’T KNOW I ASSUME IT’S PRETTY CLOSE TO WHERE YOU FOUND THAT ONE! WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT DOWN FOR BREAKFAST! HERE, HAVE THIS. I CALL IT “CEREAL IN A BAG.” IT’S ALL THE RAGE IN PARIS. YES, IT’S THE VERY BERRY CHEERIOS. THE TASTE OF REAL BERRIES IN EVERY BITE! NOW LETS MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!!!
The same way they understood sarcasm at an early age, my kids know that–what may look to outsiders like complete and utter insanity–this is all part of the morning routine. Once we’re in the car, we breath a big sigh of relief. And the comedy routines begin. Usually, it’s Simon, Penny and utter nonsense as Allie and I listen and laugh at the joy they bring each other (when they’re not driving each other nuts). Other days, as we pass around little baggies of Very Berry Cheerios, we might decide we should only speak in English accents. As I give a hearty “cheery oh!” in thanks for the Cheerios…Penny will cackle with laughter and break an already dubious accent, as she screams “DAD JOKE!!!” Thinking for a moment, she’ll decide, “well it was…BERRY funny!”
Then the berry puns will begin and won’t stop until we get to school. Though completely predictable, they will be shared with conviction and enthusiasm. “I was…BERRY hungry!! These Cheerios are…BERRY yummy!!” Sometimes, I think comedy is about confidence…other times I regret ever telling my children a “dad joke” or pun. I should have stuck with sarcasm. Though I have to admit, the Cheerios really are BERRY good, BERRY nutricious and berry BERRY BERRY berry-ful. Also, gluten-free!
Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Cheerios for this campaign, but my opinions are my own. #BerriesEverywhere