If you cringe every time your toddler cracks himself up by shouting “poopyhead!” repeatedly, take heart. Some experts say that scatological humor should not only be accepted, but encouraged.
Ed Dunkelblau is a psychologist who works with schools and companies preaching the gospel of humor. “Kids learn to build relationships through humor and laughter,” he says. “We forget that humor, laughter, and play are vital to our existence.”
Others say that joke-telling is a triumph of language and should be celebrated as such.
“A kid who is really hopped up on humor shows a sign of intelligence at an early age,” says Pat Sandy, senior program director for American Greetings. “Yes, there’s a time and a place for everything, but armpit farts and booger jokes show an ability to take incongruent devices and bring them together.”
That’s not news in my communal household, where humor of every kind is celebrated, sometimes with mixed results.
Take the time at Thanksgiving dinner, when my then-3-year-old niece was at the height of her joke-repeating prowess, parroting her father’s quips with confidence, despite not knowing what was so funny. (Example: What’s the tastiest number? Pi!) This, of course, only made it funnier.
Her father whispered a joke in her ear, then Erika turned around and announced to the table (filled with three dozen assorted friends, grandparents, and other relatives), “Two penises were walking down the street…”
My brother-in-law jumped in, “No, two PEANUTS were walking down the street! PEANUTS!”
I think Erika’s version was better.