Why did the sheep stand cross-legged? 
Because it needed to go to the BAAAthroom…

Spend enough time around little kids and you will hear a lot of very silly jokes.  Sometimes they actually make me laugh, like the one above.  Sometimes I just smile and pretend it’s funny, to avoid hurting their feelings.   And sometimes I don’t get it.

Little kids don’t always understand the basics of humor.  They get the concept of a joke, what it is and that it makes you laugh, and they figure out that jokes usually have a  structure.  (This is why jokes for kids and by kids are usually of the knock, knock or question and response variety.)  They can memorize jokes, and love it when people laugh at their telling.  But the reason for the laughter is often lost on kids.  Word play is tough when you’re still figuring out that words can have two meanings.  They do know that some words are funny by themselves (usually potty words), and so when kids start to make up their own jokes, they default to those words.

That’s how you end up with “jokes” like this:

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Camel who?
A camel pooped on Bobby!

It’s not funny and it doesn’t make any sense.  But to the five-year-old who told it, that joke is hysterical.  And guess what?  He’s laughing, so he doesn’t really care that you aren’t.  🙂


Trying to Entertain the Parrot

Taking a bath usually has a variety of benefits for me.  It’s relaxing, soothes aches and pains, and frees my imagination.  I recently took a bath in the hopes of getting all three of these, but I made one big mistake.

I forgot to move my parrot to his perch in the bathroom.

Max is a rescue African grey parrot, and while he is not a fan of affection or water he does love attention and prefers to be in the same room as me.   He lets me know that he wants me to come back (or bring him with me) by making very high-pitched, loud whistles.  I’ve found that if I put him on his perch (suction-cupped to the mirror) while I shower or bathe, he’ll stay quiet.  His goal is to be in the room with me, that’s all.

This time I forgot, until I was already soaking and he started whistling.  Loudly.  At earache-inducing pitches.  There were a couple of things I could do, but I opted for the easiest route.  I whistled back.  Any sound he made, I responded, most of the time by mimicking exactly what he did.  After a little while I could play this silly game with him while I let my mind work on other things.

In many ways, having Max is like having a toddler or young child.  (I know, he’s easier than a kid because he poops on newspaper, sleeps when it’s dark, and I can put him in a cage.  I said “many” ways, not “all.”)  This little game with the bird got me to thinking about writing for children.

Kids stories are both easier and harder than adult stories.  You can have silly things happen and kids won’t care, but there are some topics that are hard to explain to kids.  Kids may love your story but if their parents aren’t happy, you failed.  Falling in both categories is length.  Kids books are easier because they are shorter, but this also makes them more difficult.  Some stories are too long to be told in a picture book, or even one kid-length chapter book.

I’ve given myself a little challenge, and I plan to share the results with you.  Using the same basic premise as Dragon Pendant (with lots of latitude to change the plot) I’m going to write a kid-style short story called Dragon Princess.  You’ll have to let me know what you think of it.  🙂