Laughter is, no doubt, the best benefit of having a happy day. And telling jokes can quickly turn a dull moment into a fun one. Whether at the dinner table, in the car, or just snuggling in bed, we find humor in the every day and in the familiar -- starting with the infamous "why did the chicken cross the road?" and "knock, knock" beginner jokes. What keeps the laughter going, and encourages them to become creative thinkers, is when we say, "Now its your turn to tell a joke." Their little minds start churning, and then they blurt out a rendition of their own, usually the first thing that pops into their mind.
It's no surprise to us that, right now, our three-year old son finds "passing gas" the most funniest, knee-slapping thing of all. "Why did the chicken cross the road? Because a pig was in front of the chicken and it tried to toot on it. That is my joke!" he says while holding his stomach.
We try to refrain ourselves from laughing out loud to these types of jokes, although it's clear that the sounds of the body is completely humorous to them, and instead encourage play on words to stir up their creativity, or better, challenge them to come up with something even funnier: "What kind of dog does the sun have? A hot dog!"
The expression "laughter is contagious" is ever-so-present and true with young children around. When you laugh, they do too. One joke that I have loved since I can remember is, "Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?" They think about it, and try to come up with explanations. "Because it was asleep!" I laugh, and they laugh with me. As their laughter trickles off, they pause, most likely to envision a monkey falling from a tree. My daughter's smile turns into seriousness, and asks "Why did he fall asleep? Was he tired?" and so the jokes trail off to new ideas and made-up silly scenarios.
What I love about telling jokes is that its a simple short form of storytelling involving characters, animals, or simple objects with a layer of silliness or something completely outrageous and impossible.
All ages appreciate the exchange of unexpected "short stories." And most precious of all is when our little ones begin to perfect this form of story telling too -- expressing their humor and unique creative spirits. For parents, it's a smiling effort all around, especially when we can hear them tell jokes to their siblings or friends, laughing wildly on the floor together, and then take pride in themselves for making others smile.
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