Sometimes, that IS the question.
Most kids go through a phase where they unknowingly say really funny, yet inappropriate, things. In a larger family, these phases repeat and increase because of the influence of older kids on their younger siblings. As parents, it is sometimes very difficult NOT to laugh at something you know you should be correcting.
I am certain you would like some concrete examples, and you are in luck! Currently, our 6-year-old son is in the middle of one of these phases and he is providing a LOT of fodder! While we were on vacation last week, our son seemed to be trying for a gold medal in the Big Mouth Olympics...
While on vacation, we rented a pontoon boat for a few days. While my husband was docking the boat one day, our son stood on the dock and yelled as loud as he could, "Hey Dad! How's that ointment working out for ya'?"
Where did he hear that? Answer: his older brother.
Why would he wait until he was out on a lake full of other people and shout it over a medium (water) that carries sound so well? Answer: Apparently, he's a comedic genius.
How can I hide the fact that I'm laughing, so that I can reprimand this child, and, later, give his brother what-for? Answer: I couldn't, but his father was able to contain his giggling long enough to take both siblings to task.
Here's another one from vacation:
Right after I said bedtime prayers with my son one night, which included praying for the new baby, he asked me THE BIG ONE, "Mom, how do babies get into your stomach?". Feeling so proud of myself for not panicking (as I did with his 3 older siblings), I confidently stated, "God loves a Mom and Dad so much that He wants to show his love by giving them a baby. He puts the tiny baby in the mom's tummy right under her heart, so the baby can hear the heartbeat and know he's loved, too.". Here is where my smug smile was replaced by an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh out loud, as my son replied, "But really, the mom and dad just put an egg in there that has the baby in it.".
My only question/comment for this? What friend's parent thought it was a brilliant idea to give a 6-year-old ALL the scientific facts on human breeding, and then let THAT kid loose on my kid? Just because they ASK an adult-sounding question does NOT mean they are ready for the adult explanation, People!!!
Of course, there are also the moments when you think it's perfectly fine to laugh at your child's comments, but it causes great embarrassment (and even tears!) for your child. For example, one night we went out for a boat ride after dark, to let my dad test out the boat for the first time. Although we knew we were low on gas, we did not realize how low, until we stopped moving right in the middle of the lake! Immediately, we all began looking for a nearby boat to tow us in, and my 6-year-old thought this was great fun. When we heard some voices nearby, my husband began yelling "Hello? Can you help?". Apparently, the 6-year-old thought that my husband could use some help, so he started yelling, "If you can hear me, follow the sound of my voice!". In a tense situation, it was all too much for the three adults on our boat, and we started laughing. My son, however, was so offended and embarrassed that he folded his arms and put his head down.
Funny? You bet.
Did my son intend for it to be funny? Nope. He thought he was helping all of us out of a bad situation.
What's a parent to do?
Well, for one, I have to work on getting better about seeing these comments as a source of entertainment while I am in the presence of the child who is making the comments. Believe it or not, I have made huge strides since my oldest was born fourteen years ago, but I still have some work to do.
Secondly, my husband or I sometimes crack down too hard on comments which we see as a sign of impending behavior problems, when they are really just things the child has overheard in innocence and is unwittingly repeating (see "ointment" story above!). In this case, it's a "don't laugh, don't yell" policy.
Lastly, I need to remember to record these funny moments for posterity (and that child's wedding!). Too many of these episodes with my other kids have passed by and have already been forgotten. Hopefully, this blog will help correct this issue.
All in all, our vacation was enlivened and enriched by these hilarious moments and make for some great family memories. I am glad that I try to take the time to listen to what my children are saying, even if it makes me snort my cola out of my nose!