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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 wonderful memories.

© 1998, 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 it!

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 memories.

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 newspaper readers.

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

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 nap!"

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 chuckles!

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