Dan was a contestant in an old fashioned pie eating contest recently at an event in town. No, he didn't win but he had as much fun as anyone with cake in their mustache possibly could. He's the perpetual clown. I generally take the photos and laugh a lot.
I often wonder what Dan and I would do without the silly, distracting humor he brings to the table around the grandchildren. The oatmeal spills on Georgie's shirt before school and Dan makes a lot of disgusting, gooey noises while I clean it up. A Lego is lost at dinner and a tantrum is about to begin. We grab the magnifying glass that's nearby, and Dan instantly looks and sounds like Inspector Clousseau. Humor goes a long way. Lego is found, food is eventually eaten.
There are plenty of journal and research articles that promote humor as a positive disciplinary technique, especially in defusing potential flare-ups. In the classroom, kids feel more connected to the teacher who uses humor and more learning takes place. From our perspective, it seems to work pretty well especially at mealtime.
There are surely moments when all kids feel like they don't want to eat. At lunch the other day we asked, "What do you mean you don't like rice? Those little guys waited all day to dance onto your fork and into your mouth. Watch!" Then we sang the refrain to that Pharrell Williams song, "Happy." "Come along if you feel like a mouth without a roof..." while we were being silly eating our own rice and putting Georgie's rice on his fork. That day he laughed and ate it. Of course, it doesn't always work.
When we had our own kids, jobs and deadlines and were punching the clock, there wasn't much time to find distractions and sing songs. Everyone had something to say at the table. Food was important and "Please eat your lunch" was short and sufficient and applied to everyone. There wasn't that much to find funny when we were rushing around to put a meal on the table and get on with the rest of the day.
But, as grandparents we move more slowly and there are fewer deadlines. We don't take life quite as seriously because we don't have to.
And Pharrell Williams hadn't written this "Happy" song yet! In case you want to use it tomorrow when it's time to serve broccoli, here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM