How honest should you be with your kids when they're bad at knock, knock jokes? It's such a parental dilemma, isn't it?You don't want to be too critical with the feedback - you don't want them growing up all damaged and weird and stuff, converting to Christianity or joining the CDU or whatever, but on the other hand, should you actually lie? Is it good to actually lie to them about it? God, it's a tough one, isn't it.
So, my five-year-old son Rico is really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY bad at knock, knock jokes. Rilly bad. First of all, he spends FAR too long setting them up.
"So I am knocking at your house, Mum, yeah, and I am knocking on the door and then you say who is there? And I say who is there and then you say who I've said is there who. I'm still knocking at the door. And then I say the joke and you let me in. Okay?"
And then he just generally fucks them up. An example:
Rico: Knock, knock.
Me: Who's there?
Rico: Benny Bean.
Me: Benny Bean who?
Rico: Benny Bean in the garden.
Me, lying: Yeah, it's pretty good.
Rico: Then you should laugh more. Then I'd let you in.
His friend Simon does some real surreal ones, mind. Here is Simon's... erm... well, to be totally honest about it, his masterpiece, really:
Simon: Knock, knock.
Me: Who's there?
Simon: The Irish government.
Me: The Irish government who?
Simon: The Irish government of poo!
Well, it makes Rico laugh. For a while, at least. Until they start arguing about which one of them is the "best" at knock, knock jokes. Mum, I'm the best aren't I, no Auntie Jorcinta, I'm the best aren't I, did you notice how mine rhymed, did you notice how mine was really funny and in a garden.
"To be honest," I say, tactfully, "I don't feel that either one of you has truly mastered this particular art form."
Of course, kids literally say the funniest things when they don't mean to. Rico spent the whole weekend asking people what they liked more of stuff. What do you like more, Coca-Cola or water? A dolphin or a whale? A shark or a monkey? 7Up or Sprite? A donkey or a goat? Your mum or your dad? Me or Simon? But it wasn't until dinner tonight in Prenzlauer Berg that he asked his best one yet. Of the waiter. What do you like more, fighting or having sex?
"Stick to knock, knock jokes," I whispered to him quietly. "You've been getting really good at them lately. Honest."