I’m lucky to have a toddler with a keen sense of humour. Nathan is an incredibly strong minded child, with selective hearing and an iron will, so he can be very difficult to manage at times – just like most toddlers I suppose. The other side of the coin is his joie de vivre, including his incredible sense of humour. When he enjoys something he really enjoys it with his whole heart and when he finds something funny his giggle is infectious to all around.
I am fascinated by the things he finds funny. Ever since he was a young baby he has loved anticipation games. Usually these involve tickling, for example recently we have been singing the Jaws music whilst creeping up on him with tickly hands… the minute he hears the first “daa dum” he collapses in giggles. Then he runs away pretending he doesn’t like being tickled, whilst simultaneously signing for “more”. I fear that if he ever watches the film he will, by association, think that sharks eating people are incredibly funny.
I think what he finds humorous gives some clue to who he is as a person, and also to how small children view the world. As he doesn’t speak yet, and only really signs when he wants something, its one of the few windows of self expression we have on his character.
The most recent game involves the Mr Men books. A while ago Nathan was given a full set of Mr Men books by his second cousin Amelia, and we’ve been reading them together ever since. In the last week or two, Nathan has worked out that there is always a joke on the last page. For example, in Mr Perfect, Mr Uppity is complaining throughout the book, and at the end tells Mr Perfect he’s had enough of him because he has a huge fault. The book ends with Mr Uppity saying “don’t you understand…. your fault is…. [turn to last page] you have no faults!”. Nathan has always enjoyed laughing with us at this gentle humour.
The new game is that he brings a book to be read, flicks through all the pages to the last one, then waits for you to read that. Then he giggles frantically and does it again, and again and again. He doesn’t realise that the last page is the punchline of the joke, i.e. that it is not funny without the setup on the preceeding pages. Instead, he’s worked out that it’s supposed to be funny, and that usually mummy and daddy laugh at the last page, and decided to enjoy the last page on its own repeatedly. I’m not sure whether this is really clever or really silly but either way its great fun.