“Jingle Bells, Daddy smells.
Daddy poops on rocks!”
My three-year-old comedian thinks this joke is hilarious. I usually roll my eyes and remind my son that his take on the Christmas classic isn’t funny. My critique doesn’t seem to matter. I’m treated to about a dozen zingers about pee-pee, poop, and toots every day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of well-placed potty humor. The campfire scene from Blazing Saddles always gets me going. It’s right there with Bill Murray taking a bite out of a wayward Baby Ruth in Caddyshack.
Changing the words to “Jingle Bells” isn’t nearly as funny. It’s childish. Of course, Bubba is a child. So, he’s allowed to make the occasional bad joke, but his jokes aren’t simply bad. Bubba’s potty humor is also poorly played. Take his recent rendition of our mealtime prayer:
“Bless us, O Lord,
And these, Thy poop”
I’m not about to chastise the boy for blasphemy. But this sort of joke isn’t acceptable, particularly with Bubba attending Catholic preschool. This gag could land him in hot water with his teachers.
To understand more about toddler comedy, I called the Erikson Institute, a graduate school in child development based in downtown Chicago. I was directed to Jon Korfmacher. He’s an associate professor and teaches an array of courses including basic developmental psychology.
“They are pretty funny,” Korfmacher said about poop jokes.
Bathroom humor often follows potty training. Parents talk about pee and poop ad nauseam in the process of teaching kids to use the toilet. Once they’re good at using the potty, the message abruptly changes. Suddenly, talk of bodily functions becomes taboo, he said.
Comedy – even in the adult world – pokes fun at societal taboos. It’s the formula for most modern humor, and poop jokes are the first opportunity for children to tackle a taboo, Korfmacher said.
Filmmakers have caught on to this. Kids’ movies usually have some sort of butt joke or gag about farting. Nobody relies more heavily on these pranks than Shrek. Anyone remember the ogre taking a mud bath only to have green bubbles emerge from the muck?
“It’s something parents should not get worked up about,” Korfmacher said.
Parents who overreact to poop jokes can give the impression that the act itself is shameful. This can result in poor body image. Also, kids at this age have difficulty editing themselves. They think it. They say it. Learning when to keep quiet takes lots practice, Korfmacher said.
So when I’m greeted first thing in the morning with the lovely tune:
‘Cuz, he poops all day
Oh, he poops all day”
I guess I’ll just keep rolling my eyes, shaking my head and trying not to laugh.
Image credit: Raul Harnasch
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.