Kids love telling jokes. And it's cute. The first time. But after a million long, pointless jokes that make zero sense, the fun is over.
Humor Parenting

The 8 Stages of Having Your Kid Tell You a Joke

Kids love telling jokes. And it's cute. The first time. But after a million long, pointless jokes that make zero sense, the fun is over.

By Sarah Bradley

It all started with my six-year-old. He loves telling jokes but has always been notoriously bad at it. When he was little, we used to laugh at his jokes just because they were so ridiculous — momentary revelations into the strange and wild imagination of a small child.

He’s gotten much better at joke-telling now, but it’s taken an awful lot of practice and unfortunately his two younger brothers were around to witness all the trial and error. So while my oldest can occasionally surprise me with a truly funny kid joke, I find myself on the receiving end of countless forgotten punchlines, nonsensical ramblings and baffling responses to the question of “Who’s there?” from my two- and three-year-olds.

Unless your child is naturally inclined toward a career as a stand-up comic, I’m betting you’ve been a victim of his or her truly terrible jokes, too. Here are the eight stages all parents suffer through when their kid approaches them with the dreaded question, “Mommy, do you want to hear a joke?”

1. Denial: No. Not again. How many jokes does this kid have? Where is he getting them from? He can’t even read yet. It’s probably the same joke he told me ten minutes ago. He’s not coming up with new material this quickly.

2. Bargaining: Sure, I’d love to hear your joke, honey, but how about we have a snack first? Or read a book? Or watch five episodes of Paw Patrol? Hey, I could give you those permanent markers you love so much! I was going to repaint the living room anyway. No? What about Mommy’s iPad? Daddy’s power tools? An entire bag of M&M’s? Still no?

3. Acceptance: Ok, ok, I’ll listen to your joke. It can’t be that bad.

4. Patience: He started one joke and then changed his mind. He gave away the punchline by mistake and has to start all over. Nevermind, he wants to tell me a knock-knock joke instead. I asked, “Who’s there?” and he can’t remember. Now he wants me to say “Knock-knock.”

5. Confusion: He’s talking about oranges and basketballs and motorcycles and dogs climbing up a tree and a bear standing at the back door and I don’t even know what’s happening anymore. I think he’s just saying every word that pops into his head. 

6. Anger: His, not mine. I didn’t realize the joke was over and then I didn’t laugh hard enough. When I did laugh, he accused me of “just pretending.”

7. Relief: Well, it was a long and painful seven minutes, but at least it’s over. We can all move on with our lives now.

8. Fear: Wait, what?! He wants to tell me another joke?


About the Author

Sarah Bradley is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She is mother to three wild and wonderful boys, and wife to one extremely patient husband. In her so-called “free time,” she is also a homeschooler, an amateur baker, and a lover of all things DIY. You can find her documenting her attempts at balancing the mother/writer life on Instagram.