Monday, December 26th, 2011
In theory, prerecorded laughs and canned applause help remind us how funny our mediocre sitcoms are. They serve as that little morale boost; one that we barely even notice. It turns out, the same basic idea works on training a toddler.
My son Jack is really starting to learn some cool tricks these days, like blowing kisses (thanks to my wife) or fetching a ball (thanks to me.)
But he is also accidently being taught new tricks when he mimics sounds or actions that I subconsciously approve of through my laughter or by me clapping my hands.
This “positive reiforcement” style of teaching him is a good thing. After all, it’s pretty easy to teach a toddler to do something when all you have to do is reward the behavior by cheering him on. But it can be a bad thing too.
For example, when playing with a “toy” like a wooden spoon or a book, he often hits himself in the face with it. Or less sadomasochist, he will try to scratch (or break) my nose when I am playing with him.
What do I do? I laugh. Because it’s funny.
I know I shouldn’t. I’m really trying not to. But it’s so hilarious when he tries to hurt me or himself; especially knowing it’s just for an innocent laugh. After all, that’s what made The Three Stooges so successful back in their day.
A few weeks ago for my wife’s Christmas party for her work at Vanderbilt University, Jack was a star. In a banquet room comprised largely of Taiwanese and Chinese scientists and their families, Jack was the golden boy to carry around to all the tables.
Only I wasn’t the one featuring him as the secondary entertainment for the night.
Instead, the main person carrying him to each table was a woman who probably didn’t weigh a hundred pounds. As she laughingly toted him to another new table, which was quite a sight in itself because he’s no small bambino, Jack reached up and hit her in the face. She went on joyfully with him, but I have to admit, I felt pretty bad about it.
Note to self: Stop encouraging your son to do bad things by laughing or clapping when he does something he shouldn’t… no matter how funny it is.
Even when he bangs his head against the door repeatedly and laughs about it. (Especially when he bangs his head against the door repeatedly and laughs about it!)
Add a Comment
Saturday, November 5th, 2011
I always thought that one of the most fun jobs in the world would be to censor R-rated movies for TV. Some of the curse word stand-ins are simply (and deliberately) hilarious. I remember in high school watching the edited-for-TV version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There’s a part where Judge Reinhold’s character gets fired from his fast food cashier job for “using profanity” with a customer: “I’ll kick 100% of your face!”
Another horribly awesome substitution is for Bruce Willis’s signature catch-phrase in Die Hard. It becomes, “Yippee-ki-yay, kimosabi!” In the sequel, it’s “Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!” This is especially funny because there definitely is no character in the movie who is named “Mr. Falcon.”
Curse words both fascinate and bore me at the same time. Cursing is so common now that it holds little shock value anymore; even if we pretend otherwise. And that’s sort of the whole point of cursing: dramatic effect. I believe it is safe to say that traditional profanity is simply losing its edge because of overkill.
In fact, I make a point not to curse both in my everyday language and in my writing, simply because it makes me feel deeply unoriginal.
Besides, why should I let our American society choose the profanity word bank for me? For example, in China, it’s “son of a turtle.” That’s an actual Chinese curse word!
In the likeness of R-rated movies edited for TV, I feel more confident as a human being by using my own profanity- as I soon will demonstrate. But admittedly, as the title of this post conveys, there are plenty of times as a dad where I become pretty tempted to be unoriginal. Good thing I have my creative curse word stand-ins…
1. When my son won’t go to sleep, though he knows and I know that he really wants to and needs to: I think there’s some really popular book out about this very thing… if only I could think of the name of that book. Profanity of choice: ”Ah, shazbot!”
2. When my son gets whiny because I’m not his mom: It’s so annoying that all my wife has to do is pick him up if he cries, and he’s fine. As for me, I have to constantly distract him with a new toy or take him on a walk outside for a change of scenery or injure myself in attempt to humor him. Profanity of choice: ”Smurf it!”
3. The fact that my son has a talent for easily finding and experimenting with the most physically threatening item in his proximity: In a room full of age-appropriate toys, he will dart towards an uncapped ball-point pen or an unprotected electrical outlet that I overlooked. He knows how to find adventure; or as I know it, danger. Profanity of choice: Royal Ruckus!
4. When my son puts up a fight as I change his diaper. Hey, I already have a track record for not changing his wet diapers as much as I should; well, he sure doesn’t inspire me to change my bad habits. Profanity of choice: ”Crash Bandicoot!”
5. Having to pay extra money for something he refuses to eat. Confession: I believe that “baby yogurt” is simply regular yogurt with an extra vitamin or two; just a marketing ploy for first-time parents. I learned my lesson- my son made me waste three bucks on “baby yogurt” that he wouldn’t eat. Profanity of choice: “Pac-Man fever!”
Add a Comment
censorship, Chinese, culture, cursing, Die Hard, profanity | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Home Life, Must Read, Nostalgia, Storytelling, The Dadabase