Opinion

OPINION | GARY SMITH: Dear ol’ dad fulfills the role of skilled jokeSmith

Someone’s got to keep the kids’ eyes rolling

xfThroughout history, fathers have provided many important things for their children. They've been positive role models, protectors, teachers of critical life skills, financial and emotional supporters and dispensers of sound advice.

Not sure I delivered on much of that for my kids, but I did bring the dad jokes. Yep, dad jokes. You might say they're just the way eye roll.

A penguin walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "Have you seen my brother?" "I don't know," says the bartender. "What does he look like?"

Since my children were born, they could depend on my wife and me for all manner of sustenance, support, direction and fulfillment of all their vital needs. Which is to say they could depend on my wife for all of those things, and since there's no "I" in "team" (but there is in "idiot"), "we" got them taken care of.

But when it came to bad puns and cringe-worthy commentary, that was all me. And I know, there are those who would say that meant I got to be the "fun one." I would counter that would depend on whether your definition of "fun" involves being exposed to bad jokes about furry animals.

A bear walks into a bar and tells the bartender, "I'll have a gin and .................... tonic." "What's with the long pause?" the bartender says. "I was born with them," the bear says.

I mention all this because it gives me a chance to roll out some classics that had my children groaning and running from the room for years. But also because I read something the other day that indicates I may have been providing a valuable service to my offspring. Beyond, you know, taking out the trash on a regular basis.

Seems, studies in Great Britain indicate, that dad jokes actually serve a useful role in that they teach children how to deal with awkwardness and embarrassment. Or at least prepare them for seeing you dance at a wedding.

An aside (because there is always an aside): Why do studies like this always come out of Great Britain? Is it the weather? The food? I mean, if you've been told scones are good all your life, perhaps you don't trust anything and are willing to investigate everything.

But I digress ...

My wife told me to put ketchup on the shopping list. Now I can't read any of it.

And we're back ...

Apparently, studies show, it's also important for the primary source of authority in children's lives to be seen as capable of being silly and playful. But since my wife doesn't know any good terrible jokes, that fell to me.

Did you hear about the fisherman who dates a mermaid? They met on line.

The beauty of dad jokes (again, very much in the eye of the beholder) is that, like parenting itself, you're never actually done. As much as others might wish. Now, however, instead of telling dad jokes to my kids, I have an entire new audience – my grandchildren.

Seems they didn't know that a factory that makes only OK products is a satis-factory. And now they do.

There are, of course, important factors to be taken into consideration when you start breaking in an entire new dad joke audience. "Breaking in," "subjecting to," -- same difference.

For one thing, age. You probably can't tell a 3-year-old that the reason the physics teacher broke up with the biology teacher was that there just wasn't any chemistry. Unless you were shooting for a blank stare.

And you have to remember that informing a 10-year-old that Luke Skywalker's mentor drives a ToYoda is wholly contingent on whether she's actually ever seen a "Star Wars" movie. Or could be a great opportunity to have her sit with you on the sofa and watch all them, complete with commentary about Jedi and the different colors of light sabers.

Now to be fair, it's important to mention there are lots of different kinds of families. And, as a result, there are lots of different folks who could be filling the role that includes the telling of bad, corny, mood-enlightening, cringe-inducing jokes. I mean someone has to do it. Just because you may not technically be a father doesn't make you a faux pa.

And whoever that person is, we fellow dad joke tellers have your back. We're there for you. We're all in this together. So don't be afraid to jump in the pun pool. The water is fine. And ...

How do you know if a pool is safe for diving? It deep ends.

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