Vivien was in a mood. Cranky, sad, but we had to get to school. I was sure it was because she had stayed up too late the night before because we had family over for Mark’s birthday.
I drove the kids to school as I tried to respect Vivien’s feelings, but also gently remind her that this wasn’t the “worst day in the world.”
“Sweetie, you woke up in your pretty room in your nice house surrounded by your loving family, right?”
“I told you there is a cupcake left over that you can have when you come home, right?”
“Yes” But, I wasn’t getting much headway, she was still moping.
Then 3. 8 month old Rex said, “Mommy, maybe Vivien would feel better if we told her a joke.”
Great idea Rex. Oh, my comic heart swelled with pride. Then Rex told his knock, knock joke.
“whose there?” Vivien mumbled
“Chicken cow” Rex smiled. I guffawed on cue, because made up on the spot knock knock jokes rarely are funny, but I want to encourage them so I was slapping my knee.
“That wasn’t funny.” Vivien scowled.
He tried again. “Knock, Knock”
I wasn’t thinking, I blurted out a punch line.
“Turkey Lurky, and we are going to eat you!.” Totally lame, but it cracked Vivien up.
Rex started crying. Vivien was now smiling, and I was the asshole comic who had to top the other comic in the room.
after a recent show, when my timing was better
“That was my joke, that was NOT funny mommy.” Rex said through tears. The rest of the drive to school was filled with him yelling and crying. Vivien and I were trying to console him now. NOT working. You know those all too numerous times you are driving around with a screaming child in your car and you are powerless to stop it? That’s what I had on my hands. It was my fault to boot.
I dropped her off and suggested what would make me feel better: food.
“Rex, want to go with me to buy bagels at the bagel store?” He nodded. When we parked he unbuckled and stood in the car doorway pouting.
” I wanted my joke to make Vivien feel better, but it was your joke that did. I’m sad.”
“Rex I am so sorry. I should not have stepped on your line. I’m so sorry. But, it was your idea to tell her a joke and that DID help her feel better, so you did it. You made her feel better.”
“But, you made the laugh.”
“Comics are terrible people. I’m sorry.” Then we got bagels holding hands and he got a fruit cup from another store. We were okay.
I’m proud of Rex that he wanted to make Vivien feel better and thought, like his mom, that humor is the way to healing. I’m proud of him that he articulated his feelings to me. He is finding his way. I just need to keep my mouth shut.