My girl has a way of bringing out the best in me, except when she asks me to tell her jokes. I seriously cringe and even get nervous because I know I’m severely disappointing her. My mind goes absolutely blank and I stare at her anxious 5-year-old face that’s just waiting for her mamá to pay command to her wishes.
Nothing comes out. Not a word.
Then, in a desperate attempt to save the moment — and her mom — she comes up with the genius idea of making up our own jokes.
“You go first,” I tell her.
She comes up with something wildly creative, crazy and fun.
“Tú turno, mamá!” (It’s your turn, mom) And that’s when I throw the ball to dad, wherever he may or may not be at that time.
“Ask your dad; he’s the funny one,” I explain.
“Yeah, that’s why I’m funny, too. Right?” Yes, exactly. Mom is not the funny one.
The above scenario must change.
I gotta tell you it’s really tough to be unfunny when you grow up in Latin America where every single party or reunion ends up with rounds upon rounds of chistes (jokes), and you’re always the one just sitting there laughing with tears streaming down your eyes because they’re so good — even the ones you’ve heard hundreds of times, but you can never remember the punchline.
But, I was never one to tell jokes. And the times I attempted, they just fell flat. It’s just not in me. Period.
No matter how much I know and have made peace with my lack of funniness, I still want to make my girl crack one of her loud and contagious laughs thanks to my jokes. I don’t want to sit there dumbfounded the next time she wants to play “Knock Knock” and all I can come up with is:
Oh, no. Don’t cry about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fun mom, just not funny. I can get silly with no problem ,and we do it a lot; we have wild dance parties in the kitchen and I’m still cool enough to be wanted around her friends. But funny? Nah.
So I will need to turn to good old books and a few apps to help me get a repertoire of simple jokes and riddles I can reach for in a moment of need. I need simple kids jokes that are easy for me to remember and that will stick with her. Jokes that can get us started so that her own imagination can then just run wild and free on its own. She’s a very creative and funny girl — like her dad — and her jokes make absolutely no sense yet, but are hilarious in their own right. We definitely want to nurture that, so mom will have to fake it until she makes it.
How about you? Are you a funny mom? It would be great if you could share in the comments below your best kids joke so we can all add to our repertoire!
Check out the forthcoming book I co-authored, Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America.
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