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The stay-at-home dad: A joke needs more than a knock-knock

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| February 6, 2021 1:00 AM

Everybody wants to be a comedian.

My four kids are constantly trying to be funny, but they all have different strategies and motivations. My 7-year-old son loves “pranks” and to startle his parents and siblings in various, obnoxious ways. It’s very funny to him, and that seems to be the only thing that matters to him.

My 5-year-old daughter, as the senior FOMO specialist in the house, will copy pretty much anything the other kids try, be it jokes, pranks or goofy voices.

My bookend kids are the two primary joke-tellers in the house. My 9-year-old has long been interested in puns and other “Dad-joke” attempts at humor. She’s read several joke books and retells her favorites. She gets mad when we guess the punchline.

She’s always asking Mom and Dad to tell these kinds of jokes too… just off the top of our heads. I’m not much of a joke teller thanks to a near decade of parent-related sleep deprivation. My brain is mush, so I can’t even conjure the “classics” in most situations, short of remembering why Six was afraid of Seven.

My wife has a better arsenal of kid-friendly jokes, though most of them are cow related. “What’s a cow’s favorite hobby? Watching Moo-vies.” etc.

My oldest’s obsession with jokes has recently imprinted on my 3-year-old son. As the baby of the family, he’s inherently hilarious, knowing exactly when to deploy that adorable voice with some goofy jibberish or a perfectly timed, “My wiiiiifffe!”

Jokes, however, are a new concept to him, and his attempts at knock-knock and chicken jokes result in some non-traditional punchlines. At bedtime every night, he insists on attempting a joke before I close his bedroom door. Some recent highlights:

“Knock knock.”

Who’s there? “

Clothes.”

Clothes who?

(Points at the hamper) “Dirty clothes.”

“How’d the chicken cross the road?”

“He hooked onto the refrigerator!”

“Knock knock.

Who’s there?

“Rocket ship.”

Rocket ship who?

“Rocket ship blast into sky and go SPLOOOOOSHHH. Honk, honk. Panda bear. Refrigerator.”

My wife and I think it could be some kind of code or cryptic message from the future. We’ve been writing them down, just in case a pattern emerges that might explain how to solve climate change or something.

As the potential soothsayer continues his rantings, our 9-year-old has finally discovered that puns and joke books don’t yield enough of a positive response from her parents. Turns out, we respond much more to sarcastic roasting.

I’ve never laughed harder than a recent exchange we had while playing “Phase 10.” In one round I lost and racked up a massive amount of points (points are bad in “Phase 10”. In frustration, I uttered a mild swear word. Look it happens from time to time. She knows not to use swear words, but she also feels the need to police the rest of us..

Anyway, I said the bad word and she chastised me:

Her: “Daddy! Stop swearing! You’re going to go to Word Jail!”

Me: “You’re probably right.”

Her (deadpan): “I’m NEVER going to visit you.

Harsh but hilarious. Turns out the key to her comedy is her dad’s inadequate parenting skills.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.