Like everyone else, six year old humans feel proud when they understand a joke that might previously have been out of reach. Sometimes you extend that moment of pride by sharing it with someone nearby. You might say “get it dad? now he’s a knot, and he’s frayed. that’s pretty funny.”
Last night, a few hours after you’d gone to sleep, I was watching an episode of 30 Rock. You came shuffling down the stairs, rubbing your eyes, and plopped yourself down on the couch beside me. I have enjoyed our occasional late night rendezvous ever since they stopped involving diapers. Those stolen moments before I return you to bed provide a unique opportunity for us to be quiet together. So I figured I’d let you sit with me for a few minutes.
Then the TV did this:
You turned to me, a good-natured (if slightly conspiratorial) grin on your face, and helpfully explained: “He has a giant penis.”
I replied with the tone I use when you tell the same joke for the third time in an hour, a gentle blend of mild annoyance and reproach that conveys “I hear and understand you, but I don’t really value what you’re contributing.” The tone is probably familiar to anyone who spends time with children of a certain age.
I hated to do it—the moment was hilarious and part of me wanted to share that with you. (“Jeez, dude, can you please not talk to your dad about Alec Baldwin’s penis?”) But I knew that if I let this be a moment between us, I would hear nothing but penis jokes for a week. I could imagine having to explain to some school administrator that “yes, I did let her watch a TV show at midnight where a naked man with a huge penis danced with a lot of ladies, but it’s not what it sounds like.”
So I’m writing it down so we can laugh about it later.