The Power of Laughter

With three small kids, the level of humour in this house is pretty basic. It tends to revolve around poo, farts and bottoms, for the most part. I’ve never been mad keen on toilet humour, so the endless stream of poo jokes can get a tad wearing, although there is no doubt that it brings laughter to the house. Plenty of it.

imageM, my middle one, my apparently angelic looking little girl, is the worst culprit by a clear mile. Never let it be said that boys are more rude. She likes to sing everything as she goes through life and, sure as eggs is eggs, each little ditty eventually ends up harking back to bums. She warbles a floaty little tune to any words that come into her head and it is usually something along the lines of “I love fluffy bunny rabbits, la la la, they are very sweet, especially when lots of poo comes out of their fluffy little bums, la la la la!”

Cue hysterical laughing from her big brother. He is her greatest fan and finds her so funny that she literally has him bent double and crying with laughter. All this nicely fuels the fire of M’s poo-joke obsession and her need for an appreciative audience.

Although I struggle to get the joke in as wholehearted a way as the kids, it is hard not be amused by their hysteria. At the weekend, my husband did an impression of M, singing and adding the word poo to every line. They were literally rolling around on the floor, struggling for breath, such was their level of amusement. A grown-up making a poo joke is even more delightful to their little ears for some reason. I challenge anyone not to laugh along when faced with two such hysterically happy kids, no matter how lame the joke is.

In addition to M’s potty mouth, there is of course the ultimate funny incident: the fart. Not only do their little bums make much louder noises than should be possible for such small people, but once one of them cracks out a fart, that is it. I can expect nothing from them other than hooting and crying with mirth for a good ten minutes. Even the little one gets this level of humour and joins in. I mean, there isn’t a lot to get.

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So, I was pondering this the other day. Do all kids have this puerile toilet humour? I don’t remember having it to such a degree as a child but I dare say my parents would correct me on that one. I think I’ve always been a bit of a prude about these things, as far back as I can remember anyway. Slackstick? Yes, always. There are few things funnier than someone falling over. But bum jokes? Not so much.

There hasn’t been a lot to smile about in the news lately, so being surrounded by guffawing kids yelling “poo” brings a much-needed lightness to a world has been looking increasingly dark. I have to admit that I spend a lot of time avoiding the news these days. There is only so much misery and hopelessness one can digest without sinking under the weight of it. I’m well aware that being an ostrich and burying my head in the sand is not a solution. But I have three small people relying on me to keep my head above water and not slip down into a mire of emotion about things I cannot change. So being an ostrich suits me and my family right now.

Yesterday, yet another series of bombs went off in another crowded city, with devasting results. After reading the basics, I decided it was time to employ the ostrich. Not only do I not want my kids being exposed to the horror of it on the news in the background but I cannot handle it myself. News blackout time.

But being an ostrich can mean you miss the good things too. The things that make you laugh and lighten the load. My mate sent me a link other other day to quite possibly my favourite news story of the year so far which I might have missed otherwise, with my head so firmly wedged in the sand.

You may have read about the new polar exploration ship that the Natural Environment Research Council asked the public to suggest names for. The names were delightfully ridiculous, with the clear favourite, leagues ahead of the others in the number of votes received: the incredible Boaty McBoatface. OK, so I know how childish it is to revel in the joy of such a stupid name being foisted on a new ship by the great British public but I found it ridiculously amusing. It is the adult equivalent of the poo joke. There is nothing to it but somehow it is hysterically funny. Every time I think of it, even days later, I can’t help but laugh out loud. It is just such a wonderful example of our country’s ability to be subversive and funny, in a world where there isn’t always a lot to laugh about.

Is it really that funny? Possibly not. But then neither is a song about the fluffy bunny having a dump. But sometimes the simplest of things can bring a lightness that grabs us, no matter how old we are, that reminds us that there are a lot of kindred spirits out there who laugh at the same things that we laugh at. That there are, in fact, still things to laugh about.

I will be very cross if the NERC renege on the deal and opt for another name for Boaty McBoatface. After all, most of us wouldn’t have even known anything about the NERC or their new ship were it not for this story. Besides, it has made thousands of people smile. Reason enough to keep it. And no matter what they call it, I strongly suspect it will always be known as Boaty.

I am so glad that my kids know so very little of the horrors of the world right now, but of course that cannot last forever. While it does last, I will drink in their wonderful giggles as they crease up about bums and bodily functions. And I will laugh along with them, no matter how rubbish the joke. I will also hang onto the joy of Boaty McBoatface and other such childish, harmless humour that we are so good at in this country. In the face of such sadness, we really need it.

I hope you find something ridiculous and childish to laugh about today. If you have young kids, you will doubtless be spoilt for choice. There really is no better way of getting through the day than laughing like a kid who just sang a song about poo.

Thanks for the laughs, little potty-mouth.

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