This morning my beautiful girl (aged 4) made up a joke:
Roh: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
Me: Apple who?
Roh: Apple on my toes and on my head
She then fell about laughing.
Its not really funny. Its nonsense. I smiled and chuckled at her joy in telling the joke, rather than at the actual joke itself.
Her big brother then joined in, and there proceeded five minutes of nonsense 'jokes' and much hilarity.
Not one of the jokes was funny, but each time I raised a laugh. Now, it is my way to analyse and question myself, and since being a mummy this has escalated; am I doing the right thing, should I be doing things differently, and so on.. I wondered whether I was 'doing the right thing' in laughing at these jokes. I mean, what if Oh went to school and told his joke to his friends, and was met with that gauling stony silence - we've all be there, haven't we? Told what we thought was a funny tale, a joke, only to finish by diminishing laughing on our part, and a 'have you gone mad' look from the other person, or worse still a turn of the back.. So what if, by laughing at the jokes, I was setting my beautiful boy up for a fall?
It got me thinking about the item in the news only a few weeks ago where it was suggested that parents were damaging their children by 'over-praising' them. Celebrating every thing that they do, every piece of art-work, or attempt at phonic sounds, or scruffy hand-writing. Was this instance with the jokes the same?
I took umbridge to that report in the news, and I quickly reminded myself of this. I probably am guilty of 'over-praising' my children. I enjoy celebrating their successes and their 'tries'. I want them to keep that sense of self-worth, that self-belief, that the world with all its vagaries, will undermine and erode with time, for as long as is possible. I want them to hear how wonderful I think they are, how precious they are. I want them to feel brilliant. Only at this age can they have that pure sense of self-value. When I ask Roh 'Who's the most beautiful girl in the world?' she still answers "me", in a matter of fact way. There's no arrogance. Just self-belief. How long will that continue? I don't know, but I want it for her for as long possible.
So I decided to stop over-analysing, to go with my instinct. I'm going to keep chuckling at their nonsense jokes, that aren't actually funny. And it won't be that difficult, because let's face it, when they tell them with that mischief in their eye, that pride in feeling as though they are the only people to have ever made up a joke, and they are full of giggles themselves, it would be very hard not to.