June 17, 2012

Lesson 15: A Lesson from My Dad

How stereotypical to write a post about my dad on Father's Day. But, you must understand, my dad has never been much of a presents guy. In fact, the happiest I remember him ever being from a gift was when my brother and I purchased him a plain, white mug for Christmas. Total cost: $2. Great price, great purpose, great present.

However, my dad likes my blog. He may be my biggest fan. Whenever we talk on the phone he brings up my latest post and tells me what he thought about it and what comments he would have posted if he could figure out how to do so.

Thus, I figure a blog post devoted to my dad would be a great gift for a man who has never needed anything as long as I've known him. (After all, with three sons, he has a steady supply of hand-me-down sneakers, and who needs more than one sweater anyway).

 Logistically, the sheer amount of time a child spends with her parents equals a massive amount of content as far as life lessons are concerned. Thus, today, I will focus on just one genre of lessons learned, Fatherly Lessons in Humor.

Ya'll, humor is important! Though I've known many funny people in my life, during these past three years of being a parent, I have discovered that the majority of my humor comes from my dad.

The realization hit me suddenly one day when I was lying around dreaming of future deals I'll make with my daughter. I'll say something along the lines of, "Hey Samara, I'll trade you 10 pennies for 3 dimes. It's a good deal. You'll be getting more, because 10 is more than 3." I found myself laughing out loud at how irritated this interaction will make her ... and I thought of my dad.

This led to a series of memories. A generic one includes an image of his face with his thumb in his mouth, blowing up his cheeks and his eyes bulging out of his head. Still makes me laugh.

A more specific one is from the week of my wedding. He and I were practicing for our big moment , the one where we head down the aisle for him to give me away. With every three steps forward, he'd grab my arm and launch us three hops back in true Three Stooges fashion. It was hilarious. I'm pretty sure my younger brothers sat nearby watching laughing like this.

In order to take a memory and turn it into a full-blown lesson, one must reflect a bit and so I started to. What did Larry, Curly, Moe, Bill Cosby, and my dad all have in common? They are able to make people laugh, but they do so at their own expense

In all my years of laughing at my dad, I can never remember him making fun of other people, being rude, swearing, or telling inappropriate jokes. His humor was hilarious, but totally G-rated. This is awesome! This is exactly the type of funny I want to be with my kids.

Kids, and people in general, do not like to be laughed at. They do not like to be made fun of. It's absolutely genius to be a person who directs all the blows at yourself. Are you really going to offend yourself?

This kind of humor also requires more creativity. Anyone can swear a lot or tell dirty jokes, but to be clean and make someone laugh involves clever word plays, puns, a lighthearted view of a situation and so on. It means being able to see humor in the simplest, most mundane situations.

It's the kind of funny that makes a huge traffic jam a joy or a long line at an amusement park a memory. It's the kind of funny that can be repeated in front of any audience, old, young, holy, or otherwise.

I did not realize it growing up, but understanding this type of humor is most certainly a gift! It is the type of thing that enables a person to break the tension in almost any awkward situation. It is something that makes your kids like you (even respect you) during those teenage years when they really want to hate you. It is a kind of funny that brings smiles years later.

Thus, I want to thank my dad today for teaching me the art of laughter. It is something that runs through the memories of my childhood, and something that will continue to bring joy in my own family as I teach my children to laugh at his same old jokes. Because they are still funny.

Lesson Learned: If someone sticks out their hand and says, "hit my fist," beware. You're probably going to get bonked on the head!


  1. Great post Katherine. I am always imagining how I will play the "O game" with Julia. "Hey Julia, I am going to sing the first note of a very famous song and then you have to guess which song it is. "OOO.." If she has heard me sing, she might quickly answer Oklahoma, or Oh, I loved to get up in the morning when the sun begins to shine, or Oh say can you see, actually that one is Jose is Brandon's friend, but she will still be wrong because she won't know, Ome, Ome, Ome on the range, where the deer and the antelopes play."

  2. Dear Katherine,

    Actually, I didn’t even say thank you for the father’s day post, but you know that I appreciated it in much the same way that you too will learn to appreciate a hand-made birthday or mother’s day card from one of your children. It means so much when a child puts forth personal effort in saying thank you.

    Several comments in follow up to your post.

    First, part of the reason, I so often kid myself and others about myself is that well…………I provide myself with so much fodder. For instance, in the last two days, I had two very senior moments concerning the where-abouts of my glasses. In the first, I was actually looking for them only to realize that I was already wearing them. No wonder everything seemed so clear. The second occurred when I realized I had worn them into the shower but hadn’t intended to clean them. With so much fodder to choose from that is so available, why would I look anywhere but myself for something to laugh at. I suspect that anyone with just a modicum of self awareness can find much of the same kind of fodder in their daily walk.

    Another good reason to be so ready to laugh at ourselves, besides it actually being funny, is that if we don’t, others will anyway. Think about it. What is more hilarious than someone who takes themselves too seriously? Do you remember Home Alone Two, “Lost in New York” and that woman with her stern face glaring so seriously at Kevin from behind the desk. We laugh because she actually thinks she is pretty clever and won’t be fooled by this little boy. How funny when she is totally hoodwinked by him. Think about Marv and Harry. The bottom line is that none of us is self-sufficient and all of us are desperately in need of God’s saving grace. The fact that He has given us the ability to laugh when we daily recognize our need for help is one of His greatest gifts to us.

    Another thing I want to emphasize is that a child is never too young to learn how to laugh. Just yesterday, I was marveling at how Tyson laughed when I did some silly dance in front of him. How on earth did he know that my high stepping tip toes with a silly face was supposed to be funny. I don’t know but he did and it helped him forget that he was missing his mother.

    Finally, like you, I too want to thank my father who has always been a role model for good clean laughter. Just ask him to make a muscle for you sometime.

    1. Thanks so much for posting this, Dad. I feel like it adds legitimacy and further insight. Love the glasses story! Hilarious!

      I do agree that our ability to laugh in potentially difficult situations is a gift from the Lord. I always think of a verse in the acrostic poem in Proverbs entitled "The Wife of Noble Character." Proverbs 31:25 says, "She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come." While much of that poem has seemed unattainable for me in my life, this verse always resonated as one I might be able to manage ... through the grace of the Lord of course!

      Finally ... your dad is amazing! I actually thought of him as well when writing this post, but ahhh, there is only so much space one has and all cannot always be said. He got left out because, well, grandpa does not use the internet!

      The O song is classic!

      Love you!

  3. This is such a great post! Thanks to Dads everywhere who make their kids laugh with good old fashioned, clean and silly goofiness.


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