I think my entire character as a mother can be illustrated by how I react when my four-year-old tries to tell me her made-up knock-knock jokes. (It's not to my credit.) She likes to do this when I am driving. Here is today's example.
Meri: "Mom, knock-knock. . . Mom! Knock-Knock!"
Me: "Oh, knock, knock. I mean, "who's there?"
Meri: "Bird." (She always takes her inspiration from what she can see out the car windows.)
Me: "Bird who?"
Meri: "Bird . . .on the side of a mountain!!!"
Me: "Uh-huh. Riiiiight."
This is pretty mild compared to some versions I have heard. All of my children have gone through this stage--they know the form of the joke, they realize there is some kind of surprise involved with the punch line, they just don't get the humor yet. But what could be more surprising than something they just thought of themselves for the first time?! Especially when, as is usual, it involves some kind of bizarre random violence?
Like this--"Bird who?" "Bird. . .who gets his head pulled off by a giant dinosaur and EATEN!!"
Anderson was especially fond of this kind of ending.
I feel like a bad mom. Maybe I should just laugh. But I'm afraid if I do they will keep telling me this kind of joke. It might not sound so bad, but just imagine a half-hour car ride filled with endless iterations like this: "Knock-knock! . . .Dog with a bone in his head!!" "Knock-knock! . . .Tree that's pink and purple and blue!!!" "Knock-knock! . . . Car that's right in front of us!! And it's turning!! Like a burning!!!" (rhymes are funny, right?)
It's pure torture.
So I tried to tell her a few real knock-knock jokes that she could fall back on. I told her the one about Dwayne. Dwayne the tub, I'm dwowning? You know, 'cause Dwayne is a name, but it sounds like a person who can't say their r's? (She can't say her r's either. Maybe that's why she didn't get it.) It's one of only two knock-knock jokes that I can remember.
So here's how today's conversation ended:
Me: "Would you like me to tell you a real knock-knock joke?"
Meri "Who's there?"
Me: uh. . .I already told her Dwayne--she didn't get it. . . I can't think of one! "Um, I can't remember one right now. We better look some up when we get home, K?"
Meri: "That was funny, Mom!"
It's like my sister said, the divide between kid brains and grown-up brains is absolute. At least when it comes to knock-knock jokes.
Oh, and the only other knock-knock joke I can remember goes like this:
Me: "Say Knock-knock."
Me: "Who's there?"