On an average week last year I walked into my son’s classroom for a quick check-in with his teacher regarding his behavior. As I approached my seat I noticed that the room was neatly arranged in groups of four desks except for the three desks that were at the front of the room separated from the others. Guess where I found my son’s desk? Yes, his was front row. In my head I celebrated that his desk was not the one pushed right against the teacher’s desk. What the heck had that kid been doing? After the meeting I found myself reflecting on the awesome kid I was raising. Since he was about three I have described my son as a frat party waiting to happen. This guy has personality plus and a natural sense of humor that can match the wit of many an adult. I can’t tell you how many times I had to bite my lip to keep from cracking a smile during a moment of discipline. I am certain his quick wit and cute face have allowed him to get away with more than he should, not only with family but teachers as well- at least until that year. This particular school year he had really been pushing his teacher’s limits. As I began to grow more frustrated at how often I’ve needed to have these behavior talks with him I started to dig deeper into this silly and spontaneous child whose life motto is, “Let’s see how this goes.”
My son has a long history of going for the comedic moment at both convenient and inconvenient times. The first time I noticed it was when he was a toddler. My husband and I were unfortunately having what was becoming a heated argument in the kitchen and our toddler suddenly stood on the coffee table and pulled his pants down to his ankles to reveal his diaper and yelled, “Ta Da!” with arms up and a pacifier clenched between his front teeth. That was funny. Argument over.
Fast forward a few years and we had a three year old who grew tired of getting yelled at for scribbling on the walls with a marker so he decided to scribble on himself. What did he decide to draw? Body hair. With green scribbles of both armpit and chest hairs he entered the room exclaiming he was a man. Thank goodness he didn’t get past the chest. For once his short attention span worked in my favor! Shortly after that incident he entertained the entire wine aisle at the grocery store while I shopped. In a singsong voice he walked down the aisle pointing at the bottles saying, “Mommy likes that one and that one and that one. . .” Mom got both smiles and frowns from the audience. When once again he got in trouble for putting handprints all over the glass door I told him he was cleaning it. As I stomped off to get the spray he called out to me while lifting his eyebrows up and down. Holding up his pointer finger he said, “Hey mom! Do ya want me to use my Windex finger?”
It was about this time pre-k had started and we noticed how kids gravitated to our son. That year his teacher described him as the mayor of the class and was pleased with his willingness to help others and humor others as well. Yes, humor was still working in his favor at that time. He got away with some good antics in kinder, too. However, the first week of first grade at his new private school would set the tone for his reputation as the good time kid. Yes, on the first week of school that year he passed a note around class that said, “big big butts”. Apparently it was hilarious to his peers. Is anything funnier to a first grader than the word butt? Maybe underwear but he couldn’t spell it! Can you imagine finding that note in your child’s backpack and hearing him describe the reactions with pride? And, how could I not laugh a little?
And so the more calls and notes I got from school this past year the more it angered me. Where does he get this spontaneity and goal to go for the laugh at all costs, and what am I going to do about it? As I drove down a winding road questioning it the realization hit me so hard that I literally put my hand over my mouth and said, “Oh my gosh!”
It was me. Yes, I am Chuckles Sr.! Funny 1.0.! I can’t believe I had never put the two together. I guess I didn’t make the connection because I never got into trouble at school. Clearly I had more common sense and finesse when it came to my antics than my sweet boy. My parents and brother had been entertained, and in the case of my little brother victimized, for many years before I made my public debut. My mom was never invited to the type of conferences I was attending. How could I have forgotten that girl?
I think my humor debut came to the general public around age fourteen. During my algebra test in tenth grade I sang the jingle from the Playtex tampons commercial note for note under my breath. I nailed it. Everyone around me laughed and the teacher finally had to come stand on our side of the room because she couldn’t figure out what was going on. Did I mention I didn’t do well in algebra? The fun continued when my physical science teacher didn’t show up for class my junior year. Good old Mr. M, AKA the scariest teacher in school. What is a girl to do when her teacher doesn’t show up? I decided to stand behind his desk with my back to the science closet and do a spot on impression of his class opening. I was killing it. Everyone was laughing until they all became silent at once. “What’s the problem?” I asked in his voice. Just as I asked I turned to see that the closet door had opened behind me and that there was actually a connection to the other classroom allowing him to slip in unnoticed. There he was RIGHT behind me. I know he knew my impression was perfection because he almost smiled for the first time ever and only asked me to take a seat rather than giving me a detention. You have no idea how it tortured me to not thank him for coming out of the closet. And, that was just high school. Good judgment at school? Not always. To this day I still do and say some pretty ridiculous things spontaneously, and I still love a good dare. It was long ago but there was a time when the party didn’t start until I arrived. Naturally life has evolved to be more about family than parties and fun just as it should be. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just can’t believe I had forgotten all about that girl.
Some of my best humor moments are lost in time, but I know they are out there. I’ve been very selective about the ones I’ve shared today in hopes of keeping a little dignity. Oh my, the truth does hurt sometimes, doesn’t it? Yes, in this case, it even took my breath away. And so here I am raising a smaller and wilder version of my comedic self with far less self-control. I am certain his best work is yet to come, and I just hope it is never mean spirited or requires the involvement of law officials. For now this pot will continue to encourage her little kettle to make good choices, think through his ideas before putting them into action, and then look in the mirror and repeat the same to myself.
Have you ever had a moment of realization that your child has taken on one of your characteristics or habits? Feel free to comment.
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