At our staff holiday lunch today, we were talking about how much we love the gifts our kids make us. I have a few of the fingerpaint handprints, Mother’s Day paintings, and so on, but my two favorite gifts from my son were in no way the traditional craft projects kids give to moms, but they were absolutely indicative of our relationship.
Humor, verbal wit, and comedy is probably the most significant feature of my son’s and my relationship. We constantly make each other laugh and try to one-up each other in crudeness and sarcasm. He comes by it naturally, as it marks my relationships with my siblings as well.
I realized he was a natural comedian a few years ago at Christmas when he was 8 or 9. For months before the holiday, we had gotten hooked on the television shows Super Nanny and Wife Swap. I used to tease him at the end of every show by pretending to call the phone numbers so that Super Nanny Jo could straighten him out, and I would tell him that it’s too bad there wasn’t a show called “Kid Swap” so he could find out what an awesome mom he had. (Now that I say that in writing, it sounds terrible, but we both always did laugh, I swear.) A few days before Christmas he exiled himself to his room and undertook some project that I wasn’t allowed to know anything about. He even wrapped this flat something and put it under the tree. On Christmas morning I expected to open the traditional homemade card that said something like, “You are the best mom ever” or “Merry Christmas, Mommy.” But no. Instead it was an elaborately constructed “form” or certificate that said I was to be a participant on Kid Swap. The whole thing was mostly red construction paper cut out and drawn on like it was a television, and the screen was a flap that opened. Underneath it had directions for how to “register” through the television, and it included pictures representing a preview of the show. The kid understood even at that age the beauty of the call back joke, the harkening back to an inside joke shared between two people.
My other favorite gift was from a few months later at Mother’s Day. We listened to comedy stations on Sirius radio all the time, and out of the blue one evening he asked me what my favorite Jeff Foxworthy redneck joke was. I thought about it, and told him my two favorites. He forced me to choose my VERY favorite one. A few days later I received the homemade Mother’s Day card with a lovely picture of a woman in a strapless dress on the front, and the following words on the inside: “If you’ve ever worn a dress that was strapless with a bra that isn’t . . . you might be a redneck. Happy Mother’s Day.” We both cackled, and I thought it was the best Mother’s Day card ever.
It occurs to me that I might be raising the next Jon Stewart or superstar comedian. I have my fingers crossed.