I heard it again yesterday when I dropped off Ashley at school. I made a quick joke, that years ago would have had her in hysterics, but now… she just looks at me expressionless and says those words that I hear so frequently, “Dad, you aren’t funny.”
Is this true? What ever happened to my little Daddy’s Girl that used to laugh at every joke I ever said… even the lame ones? Did I lose the funny-gene somewhere after age 40? Around my own kids I feel like Bruno Kirby’s pathetic character in the movie, Good Morning Vietnam, who couldn’t face the fact that he wasn’t funny, and simply responded, “Sir, in my heart, I know I’m funny.”
As a guy who speaks for a living, it’s difficult when your toughest audience is your youngest daughter. I have no problem getting a whole sanctuary full of adults laughing, and whole campgrounds full of teenagers rolling on the floor. But Ashley now? I might get a chuckle one in five jokes.
At what point do parents cease being funny and cool?
In my house, it hit when my kids reached about 8th grade and it lasted well into their sophomore year. With my two oldest, Alec and Alyssa, they returned from “the darkness” (that’s what we call it in my house—the time when teenagers are just emotional, whiny brats that no one can please, no matter what you do) after just a couple years. But oooooooooh… those were grim years! I remember my little Ashley, back then, observing her older siblings’ antics and saying, “Dad, I’m not going to be like that, am I?”
And I would always plead with her, “No Ashley. Please don’t ever go to the dark side!”
But then it just happened! I heard about it from plenty of my friends and I read it in hundreds of parenting books. “One day your teenagers won’t want you around as much.”
I didn’t believe it. I thought, Not me! This is only something that boring parents experience. I’m fun! I’m funny! (Did I just type that out loud?)
But it happened, literally overnight. One day I just wasn’t funny anymore.
The other morning when I couldn’t get Ashley to laugh, I did the rookie mistake and tried harder. I was reaching deep in the bowels of my humor vault, finally resorting to some good ol’ fart humor. When in doubt, fart humor has always worked with Ashley.
Not even a chuckle.
Silent, but deadly.
In all seriousness, having teenagers of my own has been a learning experience. Each one has been different, but at the same time, they’ve gone through similar stages. Luckily “the dark side,” as we call it in my house, has only lasted about 2 years for each of my kids.
Sigh. Two years of not being funny.
I’m willing to wait. But, “In my heart, I know I’m funny!”
What about you?
Am I alone?
If you’re a parent of teenagers, did this happen to you?
Have you, like me, learned that the best thing to do is, not try?