(You can find Lessons #1 through 7 in the 10 QUICK RULES FOR RAISING DAUGHTERS WHO WANT YOU IN THEIR LIVES AS KIDS, TEENAGERS and ADULTS series here.)
LESSON #8: HUMOR IS EVERYTHING
“Jane, you ignorant slut.”
Something I say often and emphatically to my daughter, Jane. And I’ve been saying it for years.
Because it’s funny.
It’s funny because it’s a famously recognized line delivered by Dan Aykroyd to Jane Curtain in a Saturday Night Live skit.
And it’s funny because my daughter’s name is Jane, and we’ve used it in my family (for years) when Jane has done something “goofy,” or she has misplaced something… or she has procrastinated into overdrive (not uncommon!).
Yes, we are a sick and demented family. Especially me.
And sick and demented will keep your daughters laughing at home, where sick and demented belongs.
Now, I don’t appear sick and demented, or raunchy and foul. But I am. My daughters are. And this is what makes it even more fun.
In fact, all three of us are often described as “so nice” (we’d like to think we are), “composed” (again, we are), “agreeable” (yes, that too), and “traditional” (I guess).
I am proud to have developed these attributes in my daughters.
But I am even more proud that they inherited my mutinous, rebellious and disobedient disorder of the mouth.
Yes, it took time and patience and perseverance and cautious moderation to develop sick and demented daughters. This cannot be accomplished overnight.
It requires constant judiciousness. Precise rules (“No, you may not say that at school, in church, while at dinner with your friend’s parents. And never in front of Nana and Grandma. They already think I’m sick”… ).
Exercise of caution. Prudent discretion. And the standard “funny” vs. “offensive” discussion… often.
I mean, who says a girl can’t be both dainty and dirty?
And OK, there have been occasional drawbacks. Like when one of Jane’s high school boyfriends (an only child from a very conservative home) didn’t like it when she “swore.”
Oh well… F-you. We don’t like you either.
Or the time Jane (at 6 years old) was visiting a friend and the Mom didn’t know their whereabouts when Audrey and I went to pick Jane up. Audrey, always the “second-Mom” to Jane, screamed in the Mom’s face, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Audrey was 8 at the time. I all-at-once wanted to both die and slap her high-five. I mean, really… the Mom didn’t know where Jane, or her own daughter, was.
Humor is the most crucial element in my family, and I am delighted (I worked damn hard at it) that my daughters are funny, fun, witty, and wise… and can remember a humorous line from any book, film or television show and deliver it at the perfect moment.
People who know them, love this about them. They make people laugh. They make people happy. They make people comfortable.
And their humor is always appropriate to appropriate audiences (I worked my ass off to accomplish this).
I must say that I have always felt badly for girls and women who are humorless. Or who find offense in almost anything. They are sheltered. They are stifled. They are guarded. They are taciturn and yes, even morose. And they seem to need constant protection.
Give me irreverent. Indulge me with a joke. Toss in baudy, base and uncouth.
Call me sick and demented after reading my Rule #8.
I thank you for the compliment!
(And I guess I should add here that it was my sense of nonsense that attracted my husband to me in the first place… ah, to be loved for my most robust organ – my brain!)