Someone told me a while back that children don't really understand the concept of sarcasm until they're about eleven (my smart-mouthed daughter is only 6 so I'm reserving judgment on that, but let's run with it..). If this is true, I pity any child that comes into contact with myself or The Husband, because sarcasm is what we do. We both graduated from University with degrees in Sarcasm and General Ridicule (him with 3rd class, me with a 1st - natch).
Our own kids are subjected to this relentless wisecracking on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they go with it, answering with a weary "Oh you are silly daddy.." (it's always him because he takes it too far) and a pitying shake of the head. Sometimes it riles them to the point of hysteria, and I have to step in because I just can't bear the tears. But sometimes, it's just too much to resist and we go wading in to battle, side by side in our mission to wind up the offspring.
Like tonight for instance. On emptying The Daughters lunchbox I discovered that, yet again, she'd taken the cheese out her sandwich and essentially just had bread for lunch. In our quest for a sandwich filling she will actually eat, we've gone through pretty much every variety of meat and cheese that Asda stocks. And so, whilst buttering the bread for tomorrows sarnies, we saw this as a prime urine-extracting opportunity. "If you don't like this cheese," The Husband began, "I don't know what we're going to do because we've tried all the others". "Why, what is it?" The Daughter enquired. "Well, I've milked all of the cats and...". "DADDYYYYYY!" she shouts, knowing that silliness is imminent. Well, it was just too much to resist; I rolled my metaphorical sleeves up and joined in. "You know how 'Cathedral City' is spelt c-a-t...?" I asked her with a knowing raise of the eyebrow and BOOM! The fish bit the worm and I reeled that sucker in!
It's when it's other people's kids that the problem arises, and The Husband in particular can't seem to resist winding up our daughters tiny dinner guests. the boy from down the street came round at the weekend and the kids sat watching 'Monsters Inc.'. The Daughter - being an almighty show off - announced "I've seen 'Monsters University". Not to be outdone, the little lad said "I've seen 'Monsters University too!". And The Husband, doing what he does best, said "I've BEEN to Monsters University - that's where I got my degree". The poor kid didn't know what to think, but I bet the rumour is already well on its way around school that Jenny's daddy went to a cartoon university.
In a way it's a good thing that kids can be so easily wound up; it's not going to be half as much fun when all we get for our efforts is a smart-arsed retort. Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but it's also the most enjoyable!