From peek-a-boo to whoops-a-poo!

'Gross! Who farted!' The entire car shakes with helpless laughter and faked gagging noises. It’s not something that we care to discuss in public, but my children have often lost it when it comes to a bit of ‘rude’ humour. While it may be ok to have a laugh about it in the car, it’s less amusing if they do it at a restaurant.

Is it possible that the humble fart joke is an essential part of parenting?

One of the first play milestones for a baby is peek-a-boo.  You cover your face as you lean over the cot or high chair, and take your hands away quickly to show yourself pulling a surprised face. Babies love it, and it’s a game common to many cultures, too. Most parents also do the ‘tummy zerbert’, or blowing your mouth against the baby’s tummy as you’re changing his nappy. Prrrrrrrrpppppp! It’s ticklish and funny at the same time. The next step? The fart-laugh.

Who’s to blame, though? Is it my fault for laughing at these noises? Am I teaching the children bad habits? Or is it a universal joke which all children find funny?

My mother used to say, ‘I don’t think the Queen does that’, in a disapproving tone which immediately made us picture the aging monarch doing exactly that. Cue more laughter.

It is quite revolting, even if we all do it. Yes, we do, even though some of us are less willing to admit it than others. Some families discourage it, conceal it, or restrict it to bathrooms.

Even if we don’t talk publicly about it, we still have to manage it, and discuss what is acceptable behaviour. With my children I like them to know that an accidental fart is obviously just that, but then we should politely ignore it, especially if we’re in public.

If one of my children is particularly windy, I’ll suggest that they go to the bathroom to try and deflate a little.

It’s definitely not cool to force out noises. They know that, now. We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about how to manage this entirely natural function- more than I care to think about, but it’s part of parenting.

What makes it funny is usually the timing. All it takes is a lull in conversation, or a few seconds of silence between songs on the CD, and the ideal gap for a gas attack is opened up.

It really is gross, but almost impossible not to laugh. Pardon me.

How do you handle windy kids, or poopy parents in your family?
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