The hardest thing about parenting just may be holding in the laughter when your kid says something that you find to be simultaneously reprehensible and hilarious. Addison has become an expert at testing me in this area. Up until now, though, one genre of humor has operated under a zero-tolerance policy: name calling. Making fun of other people's physical, social, and all other traits is not funny in this household, at least not until the kids go to bed. When Addison calls people names that aren't theirs, or he uses derogatory descriptors to poke fun at them, I don't laugh. I don't want to laugh. I correct him as swiftly as I know how.
Yesterday, that all changed. Addison and Heather came home from a session at our church's indoor crazy-fun kiddy playground, and I received a report that proved too funny for even my noblest objections to suppress the resulting laughter.
Addison was trying to make his way through some apparatus; a slide, a walkway, a cargo net . . . whatever. He found his way blocked by a boy Heather estimated to be somewhere in the 10-12 age group; not fat, but definitely tall. Keep in mind, Addison is five. He's not that much bigger than I was at five (and I really was tiny), but he's a heck of a lot bolder. When I was Addison's age, I would have taken one glimpse at the towering figure before me and immediately head in the opposite direction, never to return again. Addison decided to face the blockade head on and said:
"Out of the way, Jumbo."
When I heard this, I knew I shouldn't laugh. But there I was, busting. Buckled over. Chortling. I couldn't look Addison in the face, because I knew the laughter would explode from me in waves. What would I be teaching my son if I laughed at this?
Well, if this was a test of fortitude, I failed. My son is Sawyer, and I can't help laughing. I guess I taught him that sometimes, name-calling is funny. I just hope the lesson sank in that it's best not to put humor to the test when the object of your verbal jabs has the power to squash you.