The standup kid, children and laughter make the perfect comboNov 16th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Creative Kids, Features, Live and Learn
The standup kid
Children and laughter make the perfect combo
By Nancy Harrison
Laughter and children go hand in hand. In Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie wrote, “When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” The Navaho Indians celebrate a child’s first laugh with a ceremony; the person who invoked the laughter becomes an important figure in the child’s life.
There is nothing more infectious than a child’s laughter. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate it?
Comedians have made their mark relying on the humor of children—think Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby. While not scientifically proven, the claim that children laugh 300 to 400 times a day to an adult’s 15 to 17 times certainly rings true. Having an in-house child-comic is old, but timelessly funny, news. It’s also one of the greatest benefits of parenthood.
Children’s tendency toward literal translations often becomes a great source of humor. I remember one such instance as I was driving through a particularly beautiful stretch of an Alaskan highway with my own kids, then preschoolers. Always encouraging them to appreciate nature’s beauty, I commented on the “winter wonderland” outside the window. From the backseat a little voice piped up: “Wonderland? I know Disneyland!” A child after my own heart.
Keep in mind that a child’s literalism can also have the opposite effect. When I was running late to work, I’d prod my son by saying, “Hurry up! My boss will fire me if I’m late!”
One day my son, sad and confused, asked, “Why would your boss catch you on fire?” I never used that threat again, even after I explained the double meaning of the word. It may be funny now, but how many mornings had that little boy rushed in a panic to save his mom from a horrible fate? I realize now this was an immature tactic on my part—and not fair to my child or my employer, even if it did seem to hurry things up.
And then there was the time when, driving in the car while watching for a friend along the way, I told my son, “Keep your eyes peeled.” There was no mistaking the terror in his voice as he attempted to clarify my request: “Like a banana?” It was clear to me that he was imagining some sort of self-inflicted eye surgery. And, yes, of course I laughed, which calmed him down. I explained what the phrase meant and he laughed, too—in relief.
Our kids have a selective but infallible memory of what we say. Add to this their renowned ability to mimic, inevitably revealing every flaw in our logic, and the end result is often humorous, though we sometimes fail to appreciate it. It takes a calm and reasonable parent to walk that fine line—teaching a child respectful behavior that incorporates friendly humor, while remaining open to self-reflection and personal growth. Ultimately, humor that uplifts and celebrates the individual should replace sarcasm and cruelty.
By the very nature of their own innocence, children are comics; they make every day a “house party.” Nurturing our kids’ sense of humor—teaching them to laugh at themselves and, sometimes, at us—is one of parenthood’s greatest pleasures and privileges.
Nancy Harrison, a mother of three, is employed at UtiliFlex, a pay-as-you-go utility software provider in downtown Chattanooga. She is also a freelance writer and Web designer. Reach her at Nancy@EverythingJustSo.com.