Humor at Home
Listening to my children
and sharing ideas and observations with them has helped their
language development. It strengthens our relationship and creates
by Grace Witwer Housholder
Several years ago a family bought their
first computer and printer. When their little boy saw the printer
operate for the first time, he exclaimed, "We're rich! Now
we can print our own money!"
I always smile when I think of
that because I think of how we mothers who work at home use our
computers to make money. If only it were as easy as printing
As a journalist, doing my job
at home when the children came along was relatively easy, thanks,
in large part, to computers. Computers speed and improve my work.
Equally important, they connect me with the outside world and
help prevent the loneliness that can mar the stay-at-home experience.
As the mother of four, I have
been a part-time, home-basednewspaper reporter/feature writer
since our first child was born in 1979. (I got my first laptop
computer in the early 1980s.)
Before I was a parent, I never
dreamed my journalistic skill of careful listening would help
my parenting skills. As my children began to talk, I delighted
in their first phrases, their honest and innocent observations
and their attempts to explain the world around them.
Listening to my children and
sharing ideas and observations with them has helped their language
development. It strengthens our relationship and creates wonderful
Although I delight in the funny
and heart-warming things my kids say, I quickly found that if
I didn't write them down I would forget them. I soon created
quite a collection, and I decided to share the best stories with
My "Funny Kids" column
became very popular. We love children's humor because it's honest
and innocent. Kids look at the world through different eyes than
we do. They are literal and creative at the same time.
For example, one mother told
her son to wash his hands after playing with the contents of
his piggy bank. "Money is about the dirtiest thing you can
touch," she said. After mulling that over, the little boy
asked his dad, "Is that why they call people filthy rich?"
The other night, Paul, 10, started
reading "Mr. Popper's Penguins" out loud to me. All
of a sudden he stopped and said, with deep concern:
"Mom, I have a question.
Do they kill penguins for their tuxedoes?"
I laughed out loud, and he looked
at me in surprise. "I don't even get my own jokes!"
he said later, still trying to figure out why I had laughed at
his serious question.
I assured him that it wasn't
a foolish question. It was just that he had surprised me. Even
though we often find our children's comments humorous, it is
so important that we treat our children with respect and not
make them hesitant to share their thoughts or questions.
My first "Funny Kids"
column appeared nearly 10 years ago. I now have several thousand
stories because of the generosity of families across the nation.
The best stories appear in my books called "The Funny Things
Kids Say Will Brighten Any Day." The third book in the series
comes out later this year.
In the introduction to my upcoming
book, I tell about an amazing discovery I made shortly after
my first book came out in 1994. As we were going through my grandmother's
possessions when she moved to a nursing home, we found a journal
that her mother, Grace Osburn, had kept. (I was named after her.)
Great-Grandmother Grace had crammed a small book full of the
funny things my dad and his sister had said.
One of my favorites was when
my dad was about four. He had been told not to put any more water
in the radiator, but he kept on until it ran over.
My grandmother (his mom) told
him that if he had listened to her, it would not have run over.
"I know you are more intelligent and older and more clever
and have had more experience," he told his mom. "But
I know a good many things that you have forgotten!"
How very true! As we listen to
our children, and hold them, and treasure their sticky hugs,
we need to realize how much we can benefit by looking at the
world through their eyes!
If you'd like to read recent
"Funny Kids" stories from readers, share some of your
own stories or learn about my books, visit the Funny Kids Project
homepage at http://www.noblecan.org/~tghous.
Yes, working at home has many
benefits. There's no commute, we can work in our bathrobe, we
can set our own hours and our kids get to see how a parent makes
money -- but not by printing it from the computer!
Of course, they'll never appreciate
all we do until they are grown up and on their own. I'll never
forget the day our youngest left for the first day of first grade.
As he walked down the sidewalk, he turned around and yelled loud
enough for the whole neighborhood to hear:
"'Bye, Mom! Have a nice
- Grace Housholder, an EP
to four children and an award-winning journalist, has been collecting
the funny things kids say for the past ten years. She prints
the stories in her weekly newspaper column, and selects the best
ones for her books entitled "The Funny Things Kids Say Will
Brighten Any Day" (Vols. 1-3). Come visit the Funny
Kids Project to learn more about it and enjoy a few more