The Laughter Of Children: Things I Made Fun Of As A Child

Allison Williams respectfully requests that when you watch Peter Pan tonight, you let your inner child do the live-tweeting. Here’s her message:

If you’re going to watch this the same way that you watch a TV show that you hate, but you hate-watch it with all your friends so that you can drink wine and tweet at each other about how it’s bad, you need to just go ahead and take those lenses out of your glasses and put in the lenses that you had when you were six.

I will watch Peter Pan with the lenses I had when I was six –but at six, my lenses weren’t rose-colored. They were joke glasses. It sounds like six-year-old Allison Williams was more Cabbage Patch Kid, while I was more Garbage Pail. She wore an argyle skirt and a tidy headband and non-ironically giggled at Punch and Judy shows in her Connecticut home; I was a freckle-faced urban Catholic schooler ripping Barney a new one. I wasn’t cynical, I just thought that everything was, in some way, funny.

Just call me Surly Temple.

To see how our present selves deal with Peter Pan, look for our live tweets (our handle is @cookiessangria), and laterblog (a live blog posted the next day!). For a window into my past, here are some things I made fun of as a young child:

  • Barney, which is normal. What’s not normal is writing a short play at age nine in which Barney is a tyrant lording over the overly-peppy children in the cast. I have a vivid memory of performing in my fourth grade classroom, scrawling a plummeting ratings chart on the board and shouting “We need Nielson families!”
  • There were two girls named Allison in my Irish Dance class and one of them had prominent buck teeth. In my mind, I called her Buckingham Alice. I didn’t even feel like I was making fun of her, though I knew better than to say it out loud. I was mostly delighted by how punny that was. I was almost disappointed that nobody ever realized that I was a shrimpy kid whose last name rhymed with “shorty” and first name nearly rhymed with “small-y”.
  • The swaying chorus of hopeful children in a local United Way commercial.
  • Donald Trump suffered a few financial losses in the early 90s. Right after that, on a family trip to New York, my seven-year-old brother announced “hey, there’s Donald Trump!” every time he saw a homeless person. This wasn’t me, but it was my next sibling up and I think it explains how I got this way.
  • Kidz Bop. But you know what? Now I’m in my late 20s and my Kidz Bop impression is on point, so no regrets.
  • I hate-watched a Christian children’s show, Colby’s Clubhouse, every week. It was a musical program about a group of kids who go to an abandoned playhouse to learn about Jesus from an oversized, anthropomorphic computer. Whenever a kid chirped a stupid line like “Jesus will always care for me!” I’d mimic their tone and say something like “My parents are forcing me to do this!” or “This dancing computer is my only friend!”
  • You may have had an annual family reading of The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. I had an annual sarcastic reading of Santa And The Christ Child, a book about Santa meeting a child Jesus. Jesus takes Santa back in time to witness his birth. But not the actual birth part, which is gross. We shouted out logical inconsistencies in the story. Because if Jesus is like 8 years old, why is the celebration of Christmas even a thing?
  • Another example of how I got like this: my brothers’ childhood nickname for me was Limsy. It was an acronym. It stood for Little Ignorant Molly, So Young. And they made it up when they were, I believe, 7 and 9 years of age.
  • Oh. And they changed the Moto Photo jingle (Little people, growing up so fast/ Moto Photo makes the memories last!) to Little Molly, growing up so slow/ Moto Photo makes the memories grow! Again, they were in primary school.
  • Talk Girl, the children’s tape recorder toy that was exactly the same as Talk Boy, but pink.
  • The elderly. And folk music. In one fell swoop, with the multiple-verse song a friend and I wrote entitled Old Lady. You had to sing it in a wavery, Natalie Merchant-y timbre. Sample verse:

Old Lady, bones are all dry

She’s got osteoperosis

And she’s gonna die

  • My peers’ open, undignified obsession with Hanson and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I preferred to crush on them secretly, like an ADULT.
  • The self-consciously multicultural names from elementary school textbooks. Every word problem was about Keiko, Carmen and Timmy trying to measure the perimeter of Aphrodite’s backyard. Like, it’s okay if sometimes just Julio and Maria have to figure out how many cupcakes to make for the bake sale, or if it’s only Vijay and Krishna determining when their trains will cross paths; you don’t have to throw in Sally and Bobby for me to understand it.
  • Phat Boyz, the “urban fashions” and convenience store at the corner near my school. My friend and I rewrote the then-ubiquitous Old Navy Performance Fleece jingle to advertise Phat Boyz, where you could buy attire for all your street battles. [I grew up next to and across from drug houses in a neighborhood called the “Fatal Crescent;” I wasn’t some suburban kid making fun of the “ghetto.”]
  • Myself, mostly.

7 thoughts on “The Laughter Of Children: Things I Made Fun Of As A Child

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  2. “I have a vivid memory of performing in my fourth grade classroom, scrawling a plummeting ratings chart on the board and shouting ‘We need Nielson families!'”



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