Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Word for the Day: Badinage

The last sentence of our family's mission statement is as follows: "We value humor, even when it gets us into trouble!"  We take humor very seriously in this family.  Take the following evening from last February for example.  We had gathered to sing, read scriptures, and pray for a few minutes before sending the kiddos to bed.  Theoretically, this should be a peaceful, winding-down time of the day.  Unfortunately, #2 found a party mask laying around, which gave her the idea to put it on and request "Scripture Power" for our song that night.  Not a bad suggestion, but the costume idea caught on too quickly with her younger siblings, and our devotional time quickly devolved into this:

I have to admit, my children are pretty funny.  I like to think they get their sense of humor from me; but Kent frequently reminds me that my humor is simply an attempt at Dad Humor, and I really should stop before I hurt myself.  I also have to admit that Mom Humor usually results in eye rolls from the kids, while Dad Humor does get them giggling.

This past year, though, Kent and I have discovered the power of understanding each other's humor to enhance both.  Last summer at a Corporate Alliance event for couples, each couple was invited to introduce themselves for about two minutes.  Not planning beforehand what we would say, Kent and I stood and he gave our names and added, "We've been married for 16 years and have three children that we love very much."  I gave him a quizzical look followed by an eyebrow raise before turning to the audience an adding, "And two others."

Friends sometimes approach me to repeat something Kent said to them and ask whether he was kidding.  My advice is that he is always kidding.  Kent likes having that reputation for keeping people on their toes, and I've come to like that I am the humor interpreter, because it gives me the opportunity to play along.  With 17 years of marriage now under our belts, I have a good grasp of when he's pranking someone.  Unfortunately for our children, they've only been around for 16 years or less and are often still caught off guard by his sense of humor.  Yesterday, Kent was even able to perfectly pull off a classic joke--one that the kids should have seen coming.

We were all gathered in the kitchen for a late Labor Day breakfast.  Kent had come through and kissed everyone goodbye as he headed to work.  (Yes, he is self-employed.  Apparently, Labor Day means something different to him than to the rest of us.)  A few minutes after driving away, he called the home phone, which #3 (12 years old) answered.  Here is the half of the conversation the rest of us heard:

#3:  "Hello?"

(Dad posed a question.)

#3:  "Mom, Dad wants to know if the refrigerator is running."

I glance behind me at the fridge and say, "Nope.  Tell him it is still right here in the kitchen where it should be."

#3, rolls her eyes at my lame Mom Humor:  "Mom, seriously.  Will you just check if the refrigerator is running."

Me:  "It's not running.  It's right here."

#3 with a sigh of consternation: "[#4], will you open the fridge please?"

#4 opens the fridge door, and #3 sees the light on.

I give a sideways glance to #1, who is beginning to see that this is a joke.

#3 to Dad:  "Yes, it's running."

This is followed by a BIG eye roll from #3 as she listens to her dad's response and my interjection that "I tried to help you!"  But she also can't help grinning, which just sets the rest of us chuckling as she hangs up the phone, drops her head, and braces herself with both hands on the counter against her parents' lame joking.  This makes all her siblings laugh, the younger two not even knowing why this is funny.

When the chuckling stopped, #5 (eight years old) asked #3 what Dad said.

#3, with a smile:  "If the refrigerator is running, then you'd better go catch it."

Ba-dum bum!


Paul said...


Jenni said...

Hilarious!!! I remember a few years ago when #3 would follow a joke with "wah wah waaahhh"