Q: What has a twitchy eye, a whiskey in each hand and a brain that is slowly melting?
A: A mother who is stuck in quarantine with little kids who just discovered jokes.
Want to hear another one?
Q: What do you call a Memaw who sends her grandchildren a book called “200 Silly Jokes for Kids”?
Perhaps you think I’m being too dramatic. Well, let me ask you this. Why are teddy bears never hungry? Because they’re always stuffed.
Prior to now, my children thought the entirety of humor was centered around physical comedy and its subgenre of curse word outbursts. Fall down after getting hit in the privates and scream something with four letters and my kids would worship you as a comedy god. But now they know jokes exist. They know jokes exist and they are the best thing on the planet and they must know all of them immediately.
If you’re wondering if children’s jokes have changed since you were a child, I can assure you they have not. I happen to be an expert in this field. I just heard 200 of them.
Why do fish live in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze.
What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese.
Why did the rabbit go to the barber? He needed a hare-cut.
Then we got to the Knock Knock chapter.
“Knock knock…now you say ‘who’s there?’”
“No, now you say ‘boo who’.”
“Why are you crying?”
I tried to tell another one only to have my daughter inform me very seriously that she already answered the door.
Then we came to the inevitable part where they stopped asking me to read them jokes from the book and instead wanted to tell me their own jokes. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Imagine how painful it is to be there for hour one. Luckily their act came at dinnertime and included half a large pizza minimum.
“Hey, mom! Why did the rainbow not have blue?” my 6-year-old son excitedly asked. “Because it was too tired to make blue!”
That was his best one. And I only consider it his best one because I’m hoping he was making a profound statement on depression that went over my head.
At least my 3-year-old already has a distinct comedic style, which is impressive considering her age.
“Why did the cat fart on the unicorn? Because she had to poop!”
“Why did the chicken go on the road? Because he’s a poopoo peepee head!”
“Why did the poopie poop on the diarrhea pee? Because farts!”
Perhaps I’m being too hard on them. Humor is my terrain afterall. I should be more understanding of how hard it is to master. Not to mention its appeal, especially in hard times. The reason I myself became a humor writer is because I was having panic attacks at age 12 and the only thing that could calm me down was reading Dave Barry’s column. I couldn’t breathe, the world was ending, but oh, look, boogers and an exploding whale carcass! It was how I learned that if you can laugh, the world becomes a little less scary. If you can poke fun at something, it loses some of its power.
These kids haven’t seen a playground in months. They haven’t been able to hug friends or family. There’s no school, no vacations, no spontaneous “let’s get some ice cream!” Just a scary illness and a world that has forever changed before they even really got a chance to know it.
So, I will laugh heartily to as many poop punchlines as they need. No matter how many whiskeys and large pizzas it takes on my end. Because if laughter is the best medicine, then we need all the jokes we can get right now.
Which is why I asked my kids if they each wanted to give me a joke to end this particular column of mine.
“What do you mumble mumble giggle poop mumble? A chicken with a lamp on an egg!” –Mae, age 3
“What is a walkie-talkie with no one talking to you? There’s peanut butter in it!” –Riker, age 6
I wish you could see how hard they’re laughing right now.