Yo mama

When our kids were little, my wife and I bought books on how children grow physically and mentally. We read that the aquisition of humor was a key developmental step.

I remember when my son was about 4 or 5, his attempts at telling jokes. He would get the concepts of the set up and punchline, but not how they were related to each other. One of his favorite jokes was: “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Peanut!” We laughed not because it was funny, but absurd. He’s 11 now and gets knock-knock humor, Tom Swifties, and even jokes with sarcasm and irony, but I think it’ll be a few more years before he can create jokes on his own (at least funny ones) especially on the fly.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Canon 17-55mm @17mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 100)

On our stint of driving scouts to Bodega Dunes Campground, I ferried five boys and their gear in our Honda Odyssey minivan while my wife and daughter had two scouts in the back of our Honda Civic compact sedan (a quirk in vehicle assignments had our 11-year-old son riding in another car). The young passengers in my vehicle from 11 to 13 and excited to be on an adventure, were very talkative. Being mostly pre-teens, the conversation soon devolved into laughing over flatulence and belching (actual and simulated).


(Camera: Canon 20D. Canon 17-55mm @37mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 100)

About halfway through the 2-1/2 hour trip, things turned into their crude attempts at insult humor. Whenever one of the scouts┬ásaid something, it was was retorted by another with whatever the last word that the first boy said tacked onto “your mom’s a…” From then on the discourse was a back and forth of “your mom’s a this “and your mom’s a that.” After a while, after they ran out of insults, and the jokes became meaningless non sequiturs. “Look at that road sign.” “Your mom’s a road sign.” “Hey, there’s fog.” “Your mom’s fog.” The boys became giddy with laughter, drunk on the nonsense of it all. Grinning and bearing it, I couldn’t get to Bodega Bay fast enough. I kept telling myself taking a “boys will be boys” and that perhaps this was some developmental stage, as long as they kept me and my mom out of it.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Canon 17-55mm @46mm. Exposure: 1/320th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 100)

When we arrived and off-loaded our passengers and their gear, I conferred with my wife. She said that the two boys in her car were as quiet as church mice speaking only a few sentences between them. They even slept for most of the drive. Perhaps they knew better than to tell mom jokes with an actual mom at the wheel.

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