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Funny Bones

Is humor inherited? Along with other developmental achievements, my 4-year-old son is growing his funny bones, and it's led to me back to the nurture versus nature debate. As he tests his punch lines, I'm developing a poker face for those times when his schtick isn't appropriate. And I laugh like crazy when he comes up with something good. At the dinner table recently, he said the difference between walrus tusks and beaver teeth was ... and then he opened his mouth wide and made the scratchy-hissing sound vampires make when confronted by a cross. I laughed and asked him to repeat the distinction. Again, he imitated the vampire. He didn't realize it was funny, so I laughed heartily to encourage him.

It's possible that Oliver has inherited my highly evolved sense of humor, but I'm afraid he might have gotten my husband Kevin's ridiculously corny one. A recent incident at day care confirmed that Kevin and his son share the same DNA. On the whiteboard every parent sees upon entering, the staff shares funny kid stories. This one was about Oliver. Apparently his teacher had asked him to count to 20. After he did, she asked him if he could count higher. He said, "Sure. One, two, skip a few, more than 20." Quite the jokester.

But I was happy that our preschool shared the anecdote. The whiteboard is one of the simple communication tools the staff uses to connect with parents during the pick-up-and-drop-off flurry. Finding a moment to talk to your providers is just one, small childcare complexity. A new Kids VT feature, "Seeing STARS," goes deeper by sharing evaluative results from the State of Vermont's rating system for childcare providers.

Childcare comes up in other stories in this issue, too. Blogger-mom Mary Kinney wrestles with the transition from work to home to work again in the "Use Your Words" essay. Cindy Morgan's feature on babysitting provides useful tips on finding — and working with — quality sitters.

Trusting others to care for your child isn't easy ... and probably shouldn't be. A flexible funny bone is good preparation for the challenge. A good laugh at a beaver's expense can really brighten your day.

—Kate Laddison, managing editor,

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.