We had a weekend away planned, going to visit friends on the coast and I’d really been looking forward to it, but overnight Ernie was sick and so was his Grandpa who’d been looking after him on Thursday. It seemed they’d both picked up a bug at play-group and though Ernie seemed to be mainly OK we had to decide if we were going to take the infected child into another family’s home. Also Ernie had been sick on me and so I was waiting to see if this death sentence of vomit and diarrhoea had been passed on to me.
In the end we decided that it was safest to reschedule, though we might have got away with it. But to be fair it took a good 36 hours to incubate with the others so nothing is certain.
The anticipation makes this like some kind of shitty Christmas. Has he been? Yes, both ends of the chimney.
At lunch Phoebe started singing Jingle Bells in a stupid voice, seemingly parodying it. It really made us laugh and it seemed that had been the intention. But even though I laugh at what Phoebe does a lot, she turned to me and I saw a look in her eye that I recognised. She was loving the fact that she’d done something that had provoked laughter and was slightly in awe of this power. “I made you laugh,” she stated, in case I hadn’t picked up on the visual cues. Just as I felt the joy of creating happiness from nothing when I’d done a puppet show for my mum and nannan from behind the sofa (when I was 28 years old), Phoebe was having the same epiphany. I have bred another comedian. Or at least someone who wants to be one.
I asked if she knew any jokes and she made up some on the spot, that certainly had the structure if not the content of jokes, but included the word poo, so it didn’t matter. She wanted me to do jokes too and even though she didn’t understand them, she did that brilliant thing that kids (and I believe some adults do) where they laugh uproariously when they realise that the gag is over. I remember doing it too when my grandad had asked me what you get if you cross a kangaroo with a sheep (a woolly jumper) and asked me if I’d ever seen a pig with one eye and then covered one of this own eyes. I thought he was saying he was a pig, but of course the joke was that if you cover one eye you can see a pig “with one eye”. I was curious enough about humour to remember these jokes and my reaction to them, until I was old enough to finally understand them. I had broken the code. The same was true with quite a few innuendo jokes that were made by adults on TV or in the family. I knew the laughter was different and was desperate to understand why they were actually funny… this bug (a more serious one than my son might have given me) is lifelong.
Anyway, I did a couple of jokes for Phoebe and she’d come back with some nonsense that didn’t make sense. I don’t know many jokes, so even though I knew she didn’t know the “Knock Knock” format or who Doctor Who is, I did the Doctor Who knock knock joke, which totally relies on you knowing who Doctor Who is, but more importantly being familiar with the knock knock format that you are slyly subverting.
But when I said “Doctor who?” She replied “Doctor Hula-hoop,” subverting the subversion and actually coming up with a decent gag.
Her next one wasn’t bad either: “Why did the carrot chase the poo poo? Cos it was so hungry.” The addition of so making the joke work. But of course carrots do take nutrients from fertiliser too, so it was funny because it was true. Also it had poo in it.
I liked doing Kids Write Jokes with her, but I did feel that there was a bit of innate understanding of humour in there. And she was sharp with her answers, “What’s black and white and red all over?” I asked. “A rainbow” she replied. Not accurate, but not a bad guess.
I am not sure I want my daughter to be a comedian (who am I kidding? I’d fucking love it), but I am sure that I want her to laugh and experience the joy of making other people laugh.