I think my kids are funny – at all the wrong times

She's about to do something she's not supposed to. Can you tell by that grin?
She’s about to do something she’s not supposed to. Can you tell by that grin?

I think my kids are funny.  At the most inappropriate times.  Like when I’m supposed to be a disciplinarian, when I should be teaching them the right way to do things, or when I’m handling a sticky situation – sometimes quite literally.

Our littlest just turned one.  At this ripe old age, she is testing her boundaries.  She’s a little too fearless for my taste, but she’s so darn cute while she’s doing it. As she heads up the stairs alone (which she’s not allowed to do), she looks at me, shakes her head and says, “Uh-uh.” She knows the rules. But then, she grins and springs in to action, scrambling up the stairs as fast as her little arms and legs will carry her.

Whenever she does these too-fearless things, like standing up on top of the kids’ craft table, or standing in her little rocking chair and rocking it, I do my best to put my stern face on. I tell her to get down or stop doing whatever it is. But then she looks at me with that adorable grinning face and I have to try my hardest not to smile or laugh. Because she looks like she wants nothing more than to smile and laugh with me.  She is so proud of herself for her latest accomplishments that she should NOT be accomplishing! Sometimes, I can’t keep my game face on, and instead, I take pictures – who wouldn’t with that cute little face grinning at you?

Her babysitter and I were talking about one of the baby’s latest climbing feats. Her babysitter says, “I told her, ‘You’re not allowed to do that’ and it sounded like she said, ‘I know,’ and then she did it. Can she say, ‘I know’ yet?” My guess is yes, she can.  That’s just the kind of thing she would say if she could talk more, so, yes, I think that’s exactly what she meant to say.

Now we see what she was up to. Standing on a rocking chair and rocking it, all while looking at me as if to say, "Isn't this cool, Mom?"
Now we see what she was up to. Standing on a rocking chair and rocking it, all while looking at me as if to say, “Isn’t this cool, Mom?”

This little one is not alone in testing my parenting mettle.  She has two adorable older siblings who have gotten to me in just the same ways.  There have been many moments when I have chanted in my head “Don’t laugh – just don’t laugh!” And no way can I look at my husband during those times or I will just lose it in a fit of the giggles. My favorite of those moments involved a LOT of ketchup and two ornery little ones.

One morning, I was awoken by sobbing outside my bedroom door. This is not any mom’s favorite way to wake up!  I opened the door expecting to find an injured child based on the volume of the cries.  Instead, I found my little girl dripping in what appeared to be an entire Costco-sized bottle of ketchup and her totally clean big brother standing right beside her. “He squirted ketchup all over me!” she sobbed.  My son said, in a voice filled with outrage about being tattled on, “Only because she told me to!”  When I asked if that was true, my daughter sobbed even harder. As ketchup dripped off of every part of her, she said, “Yes, I did tell him to.” How do you not laugh at this?

I managed to hold it together long enough to explain to my son that he makes his own choices. When he knows something is wrong, he has to make the choice not to do it. Even if someone as cool as his little sister tells him to do it. And, of course, I told my daughter not to ask her brother to do ridiculous things. But, there was no real punishment for any of that – I could barely keep my serious face on long enough to get her into clean clothes let alone come up with some sort of suitable consequence.

There was a similar incident a few months earlier when my oldest “painted” his sister with Desitin – also at her request. Can you tell these two are trouble together? Pretty soon, the baby is going to be a third partner in crime and my husband and I are going to be in some serious trouble.

Looking back at your parenting highlight reel – what’s your favorite moment when you had to hold back the laughter and be “serious mom”? Do you have any special tricks that you use to keep your game face on when your kids are misbehaving in a way that cracks you up?

Laura is a mom of three who works full-time from home as a Development Director for a children’s charity. Laura grew up in Maryland, spent her 20s living in Southern California and South Carolina, and has spent her 30s and now 40s in Iowa, moving to Iowa City in 2010. Laura loves dancing, reading, baking, and music. She and her husband Ryan started dating in college (gasp – over 20 years ago!) and they have been sharing life’s adventures ever since. Their biggest adventure is, of course, parenthood. With three kids, the action is non-stop - which is just the way Laura likes it.


  1. I sit by, and watch a new father as his daughter turns 1. He has 3 rules. 1) not the entertainment center. 2) not the vertical blinds 3)not the muddy shoes in the corner.

    The only place the toddler will play is 1, 2, and 3. Lately her visits with Daddy have been an endless series of ‘No, we don’t play there’ and ‘E – Walk Away.’

    He said recently – “One day, I will be able to do this with a straight face-“


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