YOU don’t even know what it means!
This assertion was directed at yours truly this past week after Noah cracked a “That’s what she said” one liner in response to a phrase I uttered innocently enough but placed in the wrong context could be considered inappropriate. The joke is a favorite on the TV show The Office – or so I am told. Given my expensive extensive Ivy League education, I was able to figure it out after he came at me with it for the third time.
When examining pencils:
“I think this one’s too small.
That’s what she said”
When connecting Legos
“Let’s try this upside down.
That’s what she said.”
When searching for a notebook:
“I’m sorry. I can’t find it.”
That’s what… “ okay you get it now, right?
I have officially entered that magical period of time when my son begins to develop a sense of adult humor while simultaneously not realizing that I have one too.
I want my boys to grow up and be funny; I want them to appreciate humor and get the jokes; I want them to be able to experience the same sick pleasure out of watching Chelsea Handler and South Park that their father and I do.
But… I don’t want them to offend anyone along the way. And 12 year old boys making not so innocent, potentially misogynistic wise cracks could be offensive to some. Just sayin’.
Still, once the kid has it all down as it relates to the birds, the bees, and respecting people in real life no matter what, I’m all for the dirty joke now and then. I mean c’mon, they are funny!
But… As a parent, aren’t I supposed to play it straight and narrow and pretend that I don’t think any of it is funny at all?
Still.. Isn’t that completely hypocritical? Those who know me well know that I am no prude when it comes to humor.
But.. I don’t want to completely gross the kid out.
Still… shouldn’t someone let him in on the fact that his parents are not entirely humorless, which could be his current conclusion given the fact that he thinks I don’t get his “That’s what she said” jokes.
I waffled meditated on this for a few days, always coming back to the same place: Err on the side of being real with my kid. And remarkably, the urge to censor myself and not engage – or even to condone his inappropriate remarks — has come naturally. If my gut says laugh – I do. If it says cringe – I do that, too. Almost 50/50. I will likely listen to 10 times more of his jokes than I will ever tell him, at least until he’s 20 30 40. It’s another level upon which we can connect, and as time goes by, these opportunities seem fewer and far between.
Epilogue: It’s the day before school is about to start and Noah comes bolting down the steps, speaking urgently to the person at the bottom of the stairs – a.k.a. me. But he is actually surprised to see me because he thought I was his friend Ian who is lurking somewhere around our house.
He stops short, looks at me and realizes out loud: “Wait. You’re not Ian.”
I smile as I pass him on my way up the stairs with the laundry, “That’s what she said.”