So our walks to school have left the insanity of E’s ‘guess the colour I am thinking of’ game behind. I am relieved. Or, at least, I was relieved. For a moment there, we had a couple of vaguely normal walking conversations where we discussed the different ways you could receive a TV signal into your house, and why the green boxes on the pavement have lots of different coloured wires in them (because, in case you were pondering, if they were all red, and the man was told to fix the red one, he wouldn’t know which one to fix. Obviously).
But now we are onto jokes, and I use the term loosely. I was quite excited when E asked if we could tell each other jokes. Ah, I thought, at last. My son’s sense of humour is developing. This will be fun.
“Why did the cookie to the doctors?”
“I don’t know, why did the cookie go to the doctors?” I reply with glee.
“Because he was a bit crummy.” Okay, not a perfect delivery, but one step at a time. I duly laugh.
“Mummy, why did the cookie cross the road?”
Ooh, interesting. I haven’t heard this one. “I don’t know, why did the cookie cross the road?”
“Because he was a bit crummy.” Right. I see how this is panning out and suddenly school seems a long, long way off.
“Shall I tell you a joke now?” He nods.
“Knock knock?” I say.
“No, you are meant to say ‘boo who’.”
“Oh. Who boo?”
“No, boo who.”
“Right. Who boo?”
“NO, YOU HAVE TO SAY BOO WHO!”
“That’s not funny, mummy.” Now it is me who feels like crying.
“Shall I tell you another joke, mummy?” He has obviously written me off in the funny stakes and has wrestled back control of the mic.
” Why did the lamp post lie down in the road?”
“I don’t know, why did the lamp post lie down in the road?”
“Because he wanted to sunbathe.”
I momentarily consider lying down in the road myself, before forcing out a little laugh.
“Mummy, why did the stone not want to go into the road?”
“I don’t know,” I say, grimacing.
“Because he didn’t want to get flattened.”
I summon as much energy as I can to muster some outward sign of mirth, and managed a short squeak of something that vaguely resembles a laugh.
“Mummy, that wasn’t a proper laugh,” E says indignantly, at which point I laugh heartily at the fact he has spotted my fakery.
“That’s a real laugh,” he informs me.
“Shall I tell you some more?” he asks.
Every fibre in my body is screaming NO. DON’T LET HIM. HE IS AN EVIL INTERLOPER SENT FROM BEEZLEBUB TO TORMENT YOU INTO EATING YOUR OWN EYEBALLS FROM THE UTTER UNFUNNINESS OF IT ALL. TELL HIM TO SHUT UP.
And so the long, meandering walk to school continues, via dogs that wee on mummy’s head because they don’t like toilets, cats that cross the road to bump into the bin, to trees that drop branches on the floor because they have water on them. My sides ache from walking up the hill faster than I thought humanly possible to end this torture as soon as I can. Sorry, my mistake, I mean from laughing so much.
Children, it is said, laugh about 200 times a day, whilst adults manage to force out only a very mediocre 15 to 18 laughs a day. I’m hazarding a guess that these churlish, miserable specimens of adults are in fact parents, who are slowly eating their own forearms as they hear, for the forty-eight time, that the cookie was feeling a bit crummy. (Not to mention the distinct unfunniness of stepping on a piece of Lego in your bare feet, or walking into a room you’ve just tidied to find three jigsaw puzzles sprayed across the floor like some kind of strange confetti at a nerd’s wedding. In fact, who are these sodding exuberant people, laughing like maniacs eighteen times a day?).
So having welcomed this new stage of humour with open arms, I am now facing it with a terrified rictus and my fingers in my ears. “Shall I tell you a joke, mummy?” is met with a non-committal ‘mmm’ and a frantic mental casting about for a topic change that will divert the unfunny juggernaut of chickens, biscuits and stones that is thundering towards me. But it is nice to know that he has not left his old-style humour behind. We are sitting in the kitchen and he lets off an impressive blow off, causing him to collapse into hysterical giggles. And there we go. Forget knock knock and crossing the road. You just can’t beat a good old fashioned blow off to get the laughing gear going.