Because this world requires more kids who can laugh at themselves and not take life so seriously
Is there such a thing as too much laughter? Nope, I don’t think so. As a writer who is forever snooping and eavesdropping on strangers, I often come across people who think the earth tilts on their personal axis. And I’ve often wondered what life is like for them in the real world. Or why their parents didn’t give them one phatka while they were growing up to shatter the illusions of self-importance. So I decided that my good deed on Children’s Day is going to be to talk to parents who are committed to raising kids who can see the funny in life’s bleakest situations. Here’s what they had to say:
Cyrus Broacha, TV anchor, comedian and actor
“Once a piece of shredded tuna went up my son Mikhaail’s nose while he was eating and he came up to me and asked if he is going to die—and he kept sneezing for half an hour! My friend Kunal Vijaykar and I laughed like crazy and told him that no one has ever died because of a shredded tuna up their nose before. So yes, trying to teach humour to your kids is difficult, but as a father, I feel I should help them see the humour in these situations. Life sucks and we will all die eventually, so the only way to get through it is by pretending that it isn’t as sucky and it’s all cool—which is why I’ve taught them to laugh at everything around them.
“Oh and I have to tell you this one incident—when Mikhaail was younger, my mother-in-law had come down to live with us for a bit after my father-in-law had passed away. She was sad, so my son very innocently told her, “Naani, don’t worry, if you’re feeling sad, let Daddy give you a bath!” Giving bath to the kids was my department, so in his head he was just being nice. It was so awkward, I couldn’t look up and face my mother-in-law!”
Praveen Kumar, stand-up comic
“Having one child at home is equivalent to having 10 adults – that too a 4-year-old kid who doesn’t stop talking! My daughter doesn’t use a comma or a full stop. She keeps talking. One day I told her, “If you stop talking for 5 minutes, I will give you a chocolate” and that was the first time in her life she actually said NO to a chocolate!
“She also interferes in whatever my wife and I talk about. One day I told my wife, “Petrol prices have gone up” and before my wife could even react, my daughter said, “Oh, then how will I ride my cycle now?” I believe kids already have a sense of humour. It totally depends on the parents if they want to develop or curtail it. As a comedian, I think Indians are slowly learning to laugh at themselves. I strongly believe that my daughter should also be like that. In my house, I imitate my daughter and make fun of her and let her do the same. That way you are making her understand that one can laugh at themselves. So whatever said and done, kids are just amazing… Especially if they are other people’s!”
Kiran Manral, writer and blogger
“Someone wiser than me had said, and I forget who it was right now, don’t sweat the petty stuff and don’t pet the sweaty stuff (note: It was the genius George Carlin); and I think this is so appropriate when raising a child. A child picks up a lot of the cues one gives him or her as a parent, so I think the trick is to be watchful of yourself and how you react to situations. If you tend to hyperventilate over little things, the child will naturally be on edge about your reactions to every lapse or misdemeanour, rather than laughing the small things off.
“A good sense of humour is something rare, to be prized and something that can be cultivated, and blessed is the adult or the child who has it. My son is the resident clown of the class and the pool. He delights in rattling off jokes, some corny enough to make my toes curl, but he exults in the laughs they receive. He tries to put together words unusually, to pun, to make little jokes that can set off a chain of laughter. I think the fact that he can make people laugh gives him joy, and the fact that people around him are kind enough to indulge him, helps.”
Amit Tandon, stand-up comic
“When you make money by telling jokes, your kids already know that education is not that important to survive. I was a mediocre student and most of the kids who were super-achievers in my class are not really doing any better. So if I have to push my kids towards anything, that would be mediocrity. I never really push them to take up an activity or excel in anything. As of now, they have been switching sports classes every year and have hardly ever won any medals. It doesn’t bother me as long as they are having a good time and I can afford their next sport. Once under peer pressure, I decided to make my kids talk only in English. I told them, “Talk to me only in English”. They stopped talking to me.
“I really believe that the best way to build a sense of humour in kids is to show them that you have one. We are regularly playing pranks on each other, where either my wife or I team up with the kids. When they see that their parents can take a joke and laugh at themselves, it makes them open to taking jokes. Now, whenever someone starts talking too seriously in the family we are half-expecting it to be a prank. It takes an outsider a couple of minutes to realise that the fight he just saw was a farce.”
Atul Khatri, stand-up comic
“I’m a father to 2 daughters and I’ve always believed that children should be brought up with a sense of humour. In this world which is so complex, tough and serious, laughter is the only saving grace. I’ve tried inculcating a sense of humour in them from an early age, even while doing boring things like homework. For example, between 2 serious maths questions, I used to slip in a remark like, “Now for 5 minutes, we’re all going to sing our favourite songs.” I think it also teaches them to laugh at themselves. Both my children are now in their teens and I think they are fun-loving girls and have a really positive attitude towards their friends.”
So basically, kids, when life gives you lemons, shake them well and make lemonade and stay hydrated! Well, at least that’s how I’ll make sure I raise my future kids!
(Note: This post of mine was originally published as a Children’s Day special feature story in Yowoto on 13th November 2014)