Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When Your Child's Jokes Are Not Funny

On her most recent trip to the library, my mom picked up a bunch of joke books for Gabi. The thinking was that if Gabi heard a bunch of funny jokes, she might start to understand how jokes work. Like, how they're actually supposed to be funny.

Because she doesn't really know that. She tells LOTS of jokes, but none of them are funny. Most of the time they don't even make sense.

Gabi: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Gabi: Cat

Me: Cat who?

Gabi: Kitty cat tumble two! Shoe!

Gabi then laughs at her joke. Super laughs. Laughs so hard that her head snaps back and I worry that she's going to permanently damage her throat.

After hearing a joke like this, and there are many spread throughout each and every hour of the day, I sit there wondering if I should laugh or not.

I used to pretend to laugh, but then something started nagging at me.

By laughing, am I LYING? Am I setting her up for future failure? She could get all the way through high school thinking she was a kick, and then find out in college that we'd been lying to her all that time! It could really damage our relationship.

But by not laughing, would I be eroding her self-confidence? Would I be depriving her of some sort of crucial childhood brain development? Leave it to me to not laugh at a not funny joke and deprive my child of some much needed brain pathway. I could be killing her chances at a Nobel Peace prize. Or the presidency!

It's a big dilemma. I want to do what's right! So should I laugh? Or not?

And I only ask, because the joke books didn't work.


  1. Or, you could say... Good try, or even you are so silly :). I have to admit I laugh hysterically at my own jokes too. Never outgrew the habit.

  2. I agree with Lynette. Im a total tool...If everyone else doesnt think so I do.

  3. I agree...saying "you are so silly" is a good route. Of course if she goes on, and on, and on forever at a time I'd gently suggest it's time to quiet down a little...that doing a couple jokes is funny, but save some for later! :)
    by the way...the gelato story...hilarious!

  4. That's hard!

    I don't know... I don't really have any advice! I don't have children and I the silliest young adult I ever met! haha!

    The children I teach at school... sometimes In just can't hold myself and I laugh really hard at them, with them... even when they do something bad!

    My boyfriend's daughter was the same! She isn't really funny, but she is so cute that she turns funny!

    take care,

  5. I agree too...saying "you are so silly" the nicest PC thing you can do for her and yourself. Then once she gets older she might get funnier. If not then you can ask her what she finds funny about her own joke.
    You do have to remember it is not the joke most of the time it is the picture they have in mind (and only she can see what's so funny.

    My best friend tells the children that child farts are barking spiders and I just about pee my pants every time I hear that line. Just, because I see in my mind and barking spider. I know it is not all that funny. I still can't stop laughing

  6. my god these people are serious. Maybe the gabster just isnt funny. maybe she will only be funny or need to be funny if she proves ineffective at fitting in in junior high like me. at 11 i was short and fat. i got funny fast. she will be tall and realy pretty so all the boys and all the poor unpopular girls will laugh at her jokes anyway. oh, and maybe its funny in porteguese. as for the pulitzer, shes not even 4. nothing like a blank look from mom to make you reconsider your approach.

  7. If you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at? I laugh at my daughter's (and son's when he tries) jokes all the time because just the fact that they are trying is funny to me!

  8. HA! This reminds me of my baby brother's first joke:

    Who's there?
    Giddio who?

    At which point he literally fell on the ground laughing and I think he might have peed his pants (he was quite young). The other three siblings along with my parents started laughing hard just at him and his reaction. He took that to mean he had created a great joke. It never was funny again after that first time though, and he had three older siblings telling him how stupid it was (we were all about building each other's self-esteem, you know!) Now that he is 22 we've finally got him to quit telling that one. He actually turned out to be quite the little comedian and keeps us all in stitches constantly!

    Moral of the story: there is hope for your little Gabi! ;)

  9. I used to laugh too, but there comes a point where you have to set the child straight and say
    "you are not funny" If she wants to tell jokes, at least teach her some potty humour.. everyone finds that funny


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