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Sage Observations on Laughter From a Grandfather of 40

“Hey, Dad, look at me,” my nine-year-old son called in his sweet, innocent voice.

Too sweet! Too innocent!

My common sense shouted, “Don’t look! Do not look under any circumstances!” My internal paternal warning system flashed, “Shut down all eyes! Shut down all eyes!”

When a boy says, “Look, Dad,” he is really saying, “You’ll be sorry if you look, Dad.” (The words, “you’ll be sorry” are just mumbled unintelligibly in an Aztec dialect of Pig Latin.)

I looked.

I am sorry that I looked, very sorry.

Cackles of laughter rippled across the kitchen as brothers and sisters joined hands in a show of unity to laugh at their Dad because he folded and looked at the stunt his son had pulled. Ha ha, very funny. I failed to see the humor in the situation.

What’s so funny about straws sticking out of noses and ears, or the cross-eyed Bugs Bunny look? What’s so funny about a mouth stretched with two index fingers wide enough for a light aircraft to land inside, if only the tongue wasn’t sticking out and getting in the way? What’s so funny about a mouth stuffed with an entire chocolate cake, icing, whipped cream and all?

“Stop being so childish,” I told my son.

I might as well have told a pig to stop snorting.

The kids would now have enough ammunition for years to come. “Remember when I told Dad to look and he looked?” They will then all break into hysterical laughter that will last until they are way into their 20s and have children of their own. Perhaps even longer.

Of course the worst thing a parent can do under such circumstances is to say, “Stop giggling.” You might as well just say, “Please giggle uncontrollably, dearies.”

If you want them to giggle more, just get angry. The redder you get from anger, the redder your children will get from uncontrollable, unstoppable, unrestrainable, irrepressible laughter. You could have a heart attack and die on the spot, and they’d still be giggling at the funeral.

Hopefully, at some point, one child will pinch another and the laughter will be replaced with crying, but there are no guarantees.

As a rule, crying is much easier to control than laughter. Bribery works with crying, never with laughter. “If you stop laughing, I’ll sell the house and take the entire family and all your friends to an amusement park.” It is fairly safe to assume that you will have a place to live for quite some time. Don’t use that strategy on a crying child, though. Before you can say, “Stop crying,” you could be living in the haunted house.

Yes, I used to pull the same stunts when I was a child 100 or so years ago, but things are different nowadays. Nowadays, I am the father. Thenadays, I was the son.

I guess that makes me the one in charge of bedtime, and 7 p.m. sounds pretty good to me.

Now that’s funny. My kids don’t think so.

Ha ha, that is very funny.

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