“Dad, I’ve got a joke for you,” Master12 said from the back seat as we drove around Orange today.
Tracey was doing a photo-shoot and I’d been tasked with filling up the tank and buying some cheese and iceblocks for a dinner date later.
“Go on then,” I prompted him, expecting the usual knock knock nonsense the kids usually offer up. Like the one we got as we left Bathurst an hour earlier – Knock, knock. Who’s there? Doctor. Doctor Who. Yes, that’s right.
“A kid kills a butterfly and his dad says he can’t have butter for a week,” Master12 started.
“Who’s there?” I interrupted.
“Dad, listen. The next week he kills a honeybee and his dad says he can’t have honey for a week.”
I suddenly had the sneaking suspicion I’d heard this joke before but I couldn’t quite recall the punchline.
“The next week the son comes up to his dad,” said Master12 – and I could hear the grin in his voice, “and says, ‘Dad, Mum just killed a cockroach. Do you want to tell her or should I?'”
The car erupted.
I confess I chuckled heartily too, until it occurred to me no-one was asking me to explain the joke. No-one.
“That’s a bit rude,” I said over my shoulder to Master12. “Where did you hear that anyway?”
We’d been spending a bit of time with my cousins lately, but they didn’t seem the type.
“I told him,” said Miss13, proudly.
“Okay, so where did you get it?”
“Just on Facebook,” she said.
This exchange was all done against a background of mirth. Mostly from one of their little sisters.
“Hahahaha!” laughed Miss10. This was clearly the funniest thing she’d ever heard. “You get it, Dad?”
“Yes,” I said. Then asked a little nervously, “Do you?”
“Of course, I do,” she said. “His mum can’t have any cock all week.”
Her words detonated another laugh-bomb in the back of the car. Front seat too. I should have been torn between being Mr Grown-Up and Mr Inappropriate-Laughter but the first guy didn’t even show up for an interview. I tilted the rearview mirror down. She was grinning, which I knew I was supposed to have found worrying, but I gave myself a few seconds to enjoy the inappropriateness of the moment.
As they’d deteriorated into coughing fits and gasping for breath I knew Master12 and Miss13 were highly amused too, while Miss5 and Miss7 were, I told myself, just joining in the hilarity because laughing can be contagious.
“But why,” I asked, finally coaxing the words out of my mouth, “do you think that’s funny?”
In the mirror I saw Miss10 do a magnificent eye roll. Quality stuff. Lots of white.
“I’d have thought you’d understand, Dad,” she admonished me.
And I’d have thought you wouldn’t, I thought to myself.
“Because,” she went on, “a cocktail is a drink and she can’t have any because she killed a cockroach.”
At this point I had to pull the car over to the side of the road. You can’t drive when you’re crying, even if they’re riotously happy (and more than a bit relieved) tears.
This week’s selfies
This week’s disaster
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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