The children normally call me Charlotte, or Laurie's mum, or even the girl that's around a lot, but last week, for about 5 minutes I was called Mrs Poo Poo Head. Let me be clear, there was no malice in this title, it was said because it was funny; and to be fair it received quite a few laughs and a few escapee chuckles. I'll tell you how I reacted at the end of this post, but after the incident I decided to read up a little about poo and wee and why 3 and 4 year olds find it so hilariously funny. My research began. I spoke to my husband and we agreed "popping off / bottom burps / farting" are funny even though we're "old." But upon reflection we felt that poo and wee themselves didn't really hold as much humour as bottom coughing. I then asked my son (he's four) why poo and wee were funny and he just giggled. I realised my research needed to delve deeper.
To briefly summarise my findings, it turns out that child psychologists believe that a child's sense of humour progresses through clear developmental steps much like physical or emotional development. For example a toddler, by the age of around 2 years old, has worked out that a beaker's role in life is to hold drink. Put it on your head though and it's hilarious. Even at this age they have developed contextual humour, take the beaker out of its usual context and you've got a great gag.
Going back to the seemingly unending fascination with bodily functions then, it appears that from the age of 3 to 4 most children have been through or are going through the concept of self care and part of that involves toilet training. One thought is that having gone through this experience and the anxiety and memory of many uncomfortable situations, culminates in a sense of relief where children are comfortable in the knowledge that they are now masters of their own poo and wee and they can literally send it up and make a laugh out of the whole hideous period when it dictated their life.
Another theory is that it's an increasing awareness of the "inappropriate" coupled with the out of context that makes poo and wee such an alluring tool to express humour in our little one's minds. The perhaps exhausting thought is that this stage can carry on until the children are aged around 5 or 6, or in my husband's case nearing 40. Eventually though toilet humour turns in to jokes that don't follow the usual comedy rules, making the unpredictable humorous. A classic example being: "What did the banana say to the apple?" "Nothing, bananas don't speak."
Anyway, to the many parents out there that must endure many more months of poo and wee giggles, you are not on your own. Deal with it as you see fit but with bucket loads of tolerance, try to find solace in the professionals' explanation that this is just another interesting step in your child's developing sense of humour. If you have read to the end and wanted to hear about the way I reacted, here's what happened:
Child: Hello Mrs Poo Poo Head.
Slight awkward pause
Me: Oh dear! If my head is made of poo, I'd better flush it down the toilet.
Child: Don't be silly...laughter....it was only a joke!
Since poo and wee have become such a hit in the Den, the children have created some rules around their use. You can only call each other poo and wee if the other person is in on the joke and they find it funny and you are both enjoying the humour. As soon as it begins to annoy, upset or hurt the feelings of anyone else then it turns from being a joke into not being a good friend. Simple but effective. We're hoping this will enable us to embrace yet pass swiftly through the poo and wee phase.