I am either the greatest mother of all time, or I am the absolute worst person ever left in charge of a short person.
Let me explain…
My kid is super literal. He doesn’t really get jokes. It’s not that he has no sense of humor. Farts, burps and boogers are endlessly hilarious, but jokes are not really his thing.
This summer we were at a birthday party. He and his buddies were doing the things 7- and 8-year-old boys do: make fart noises, burp, tell outrageous tales. I was standing back watching them. Sometimes observing little boys feels a little like what I assume Jane Goodall must have felt like watching the gorillas in the mist in Tanzania.
There was this joke that started going around the circle. When it got to Jackson, he just stood there. He didn’t get it. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do next. So he froze. The other boys were still laughing at their joke, and I saw his face turn. He thought they were laughing at him. They weren’t doing anything wrong. He just didn’t understand. But it was still awful.
I intervened with cupcakes. But there was no way to explain to him in that moment that his perception of what had just gone down was totally wrong. I tried my best to smooth it over as we were leaving. I spoke to the other mothers later. They were worried their sons had been cruel to Jackson. I let them know that was not the case. But it was very clear, my kid needed some help with jokes.
Now you might have figured out by this point that I consider myself to be hysterically funny. So teaching my kid how to tell jokes was OBVIOUSLY a moment I was born for. We launched into joke boot camp around here. We started with the anatomy of jokes, why things some things are funny and how to set up a punchline. We even recruited his speech therapist for the training. She works with him on all manner of communication issues, so this seemed only reasonable.
Even with all this training, I figured he needed some lines in his pocket until he felt more confident about his joke abilities. That’s why I armed him with the tried and true little boy comeback: Yo Mama!
We practiced this. We worked on inflection and tone. We role-played how say Yo Mama! then turn his head in a silent mic drop. WE HAD A PLAN! It was a good plan.
He tried to freelance a bit. Charlie was reading Treasure Island to him at the time, so he tried to roll out Ye Ole Sea Marm! But I was having none of that. He was to drop only Yo Mama! on the second grade. No variations. Because it’s funny. It’s always funny. Even if everyone already knows it’s what you’re gonna say, it’s still funny. This was a solid plan that I sent with my kid into the jungle of elementary school boyhood.
There was this one tiny detail I sorta forgot about elementary school: the principal.
You see, this is 2014. And well, there are these sort of anti-bully rules. And Yo Mama! doesn’t always sound that nice. And yeah, it doesn’t take a genius to do this calculus. But I, you see, am not a genius.
I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but when the teacher walked by, it has been reported to me, my kid and about four other boys were in the weeds on Yo Mama! jokes. Yo Mama’s so…. you know them all. I don’t have to type them out here. My kid = ringleader.
Let me say here that the principal is amazing. We love her dearly. She’s got a great sense of humor…which is why it is surely to her credit that she somehow kept a straight face when five second grade boys were marched to her office to be lectured on the reasons Yo Mama! jokes don’t fly in our enlightened age.
Because it was a “disciplinary hearing,” the boys had to confess what they’d said, which means they had to tell the Yo Mama! jokes again…to the principal…and that’s just funny to tell an adult a joke like that. But they couldn’t laugh, which made it even funnier. So if you can picture a row of five boys trying to tell Yo Mama! jokes holding in laughter, that’s the pee-your-pants-funny scene that unfolded.
As I understand it, all adults present were biting the insides of their cheeks and looking up at the ceiling a lot while breathing deeply to keep from just losing it. The principal gave them a stern talking to about the line between funny and mean. She asked them if they would want those things said about them. They said no. She told them to go and sin no more.
So if we can recap here: my son and band of children he recruited had to go to the principal’s office (the worst of all primary school punishments) BECAUSE OF ME!
This Mama’s so awesome… she got her kid busted for her bad behavior. *mic drop*