Gransnet forums


LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 05-Mar-15 14:33:39

Grandparents: the butt of all jokes

Author Virginia Ironside describes all the ways her grandsons contrive to make her the butt of a joke - and applauds the grandparent who can laugh at it too.

Virginia Ironside

Grandparents: the butt of all jokes

Posted on: Thu 05-Mar-15 14:33:39


Lead photo

Virginia's grandsons employ all their greatest pranks.

There is nothing a child likes to do more, particularly during the foolish month of April, than make his grannie look like a complete idiot. Indeed, there is nothing anyone likes to do more than to make some powerful figure in their lives fall flat on a banana skin. Never have I seen my son laugh quite so much as when I slipped into our tiny pond in my dressing gown. I cannot remind him of it now without him becoming reduced to helpless giggles, tears pouring down his face.

"Wouldn't you like to sit on this chair, grannie?" said one grandson, almost unable to contain his laughter, pointing to a chair with a pad on it, underneath which was a very obvious whoopee cushion. I duly sat and pronounced myself astonished and embarrassed at the resulting fart. Then the other one got hold of the cushion and stuck it under another chair, and I was invited to do it again.

Interestingly, although they knew I knew all along what was going on, they still found my pretended reaction hilarious. I spent about twenty minutes sitting on farting cushions and pretending to be amazed, and the response was always the same. Helpless laughter.

"Would you like to shake my hand, grannie?" the older one asked, putting a hand out that contained a shiny metal buzzer. "Would you like to smell my flower?" said the other, pushing in, displaying a very wet plastic flower that had clearly just been filled with water.

There is nothing a child likes to do more, particularly during the foolish month of April, than make his grannie look like a complete idiot.

"Look, there's a fork beside your plate to eat your sausage with," they said, falling off their chairs at the prospect of my picking it up and being astonished when the hinged object fell into two pieces.

Finally, "Are you hungry? Would you like a peanut?" they both said, almost wetting themselves at the prospect of my unscrewing the cap of the tin and being sent into completely disarray by a caterpillar on a spring that jumped out at me.

Whether you go along with such jokes or not is, I think, a sign of being a mature adult. When they insisted on playing their tricks on a friend, I was delighted that he went along with every one, looking round confusedly after sitting on the Whoopee Cushion saying "Oh dear, was that me?"

Of course I used to find the whole thing hilarious myself. A friend of mine and I used to glue half crowns to the pavement outside my house, and then fall about when we saw innocent passers-by desperately ruin their fingernails as they scrabbled to pick them up. We even constructed false parcels and left them on the pavement, again beside ourselves if anyone came along and took it away. (I suppose today, if a parcel were found on the street, the whole area would be cordoned off by machined-gunned police, and helicopters brought in to monitor the situation from above.)

It's one thing, of course, to join in the April Fool fun with one's grandchildren. But had I ever been the victim of one of those Jeremy Beadle type jokes in which blokes would return from work to find their cars smashed to bits, or their favourite dog dead in the fish pond, I would have found it hard to put my hands on my hips and guffaw with laughter when I realised it was "only a joke".

A trick is only really funny if the perpetree is in on it as well. Woops - oo-er! Do excuse me. What that me?

Virginia's new book Yes! I can manage, Thank You! is published by Quercus and is available on Amazon now.

By Virginia Ironside

Twitter: @Gransnet

Igranma Mon 09-Mar-15 17:41:35

I think all grandchildren go through this phase & most gran and grandads love it.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 10-Mar-15 11:03:18

My elder GS has just started to follow up his insulting remarks with, "not really Granny". At the age of thirteen. hmm grin

Anya Tue 10-Mar-15 11:53:08

My oldest GS, at 8, is a very quiet 'sensible' child with little of humour. I've tried telling him jokes but he just looks at me and says 'That's not funny Nana' while his younger brother at 4 is falling off his chair in delighted laughter.

I worry about him.

jingl grin

I like Virginia Ironside's style of writing.

janeainsworth Tue 10-Mar-15 12:15:43

I wouldn't have dared to make jokes about my grandparents, and my DCs wouldn't have joked about their grandmothers either.

Anya Tue 10-Mar-15 12:18:09


PRINTMISS Sun 15-Mar-15 08:50:09

I have just caught up with this, and it made me laugh, because we seem to be the butt of a lot of jokes, my daughter remembers so many of the really silly things we have done in the past, and enjoys telling her children about these, and our grand-children (now grown up of course) have always liked to hear these and used to look at us in total surprise that two really old people could be so silly. In fact at our 60th Wedding Anniversary dinner our son-in-law gave a little speech with all the outrageous things we had achieved(?) in our lives, and since there were lots of old friends there, they all enjoyed the stories. The one I love best is that having been married a short time, it was April 1st, so I thought I would play an April 1st trick on my husband who always took three lots of sandwiches to work - one for 11's one for lunch and one for tea. So the 11's (because April fool has to be before noon,) I made one half of the sandwich with filling the other with a piece of paper APRIL FOOL! I do not know to this day whether or not he actually ate that!

thatbags Sun 15-Mar-15 08:54:32

I don't think the expression "butt of all jokes" describes what the blog talks about at all. That phrase has seriously negative connotations. Child's play does not.

PRINTMISS Sun 15-Mar-15 10:24:49

Sorry about that thatbags a phrase I just used, negative connotations? seriously? not in this family! but still apologies if I have upset you with that, must mind my p's and q's, in future, a saying which you might be interested to know comes from the printing industry - when the original for printing was produced by a compositor with lead letters, all laid out in a tray and back to front, so it was necessary to mind the p's and q's which could be easily mixed, as was my phrase . We live and learn.

thatbags Sun 15-Mar-15 10:31:15

Not upset at all, printmiss. I was just saying what it means to me.

Like janea, I never played jokes on my grandparents. I don't think it ever occurred to me. I wonder if that's an old generation gap thing. In any case it's nice that kids feel they can play tricks on granny now. The word butt definitely has negative connotations for me; the phrase playing tricks on granny doesn't.

thatbags Sun 15-Mar-15 10:34:21

c/f butt in, butt out, animals who butt each other in the head, and so on.

Anya Sun 15-Mar-15 10:41:48

How about 'the accepting recipients of funny tricks, puns and jokes' ...I know it doesn't exactly trip off the tongue but it won't upset our more punctilious pedantic erudite grannies smile

janeainsworth Sun 15-Mar-15 10:52:03

Printmiss I thought you were just quoting the title that GN had given the blog.

'Butt' has many different meanings, but the expression 'the butt of jokes' to me implies an element of bullying, which I don't think was actually intended in the blog, but which Virginia Ironside's final paragraph hints at.

I do remember there was a thread on GN not so long ago from a very distressed GN-er who felt she was the recipient of remarks made by her older Gcs, which were probably intended as jokes but which she herself found very hurtful.

It's that sort of thing that springs to my mind when I hear the words 'the butt of jokes'.

janeainsworth Sun 15-Mar-15 10:56:26

And to say grandparents are 'the butt of all jokes' somehow implies that older people are particularly suited to being bullied in this way.

I blame GNHQ for this, not Virginia Ironside.

PRINTMISS Sun 15-Mar-15 11:44:41

Perhaps it is just me, and the other half, then, who are inclined to shrug off anything we think is unacceptable in the way of being the 'butt' of something. Although I evidently have a 'look' which speaks volumes smile,and have reached an age which commands a certain amount of respect.grin

Anya Sun 15-Mar-15 11:46:52

No, you're not alone!

TerriBull Sun 15-Mar-15 11:58:27

We don't feel the butt of anyone's jokes, they are too much in thrall to us for the occasions when we have fulfilled that familiar role "The Bank of Mum and Dad", and I might add that we were a lot more competent then our children have been in relation to managing financial matters at their age, albeit they have had to cope with student loans and outrageous rents, they have been guilty like many of their generation of "I want it and I want it now!" so if anything they are the butt of our jokes! My husband has a good relationship with his older granddaughters who have found him invaluable for driving practice and quite a bit of practical advice and I think they really respect him. They live fairly near to us and he stepped in to play an important male role in their lives when their father died a few years ago. I'm agreeing with others here, the implication is that grandparents are bumbling buffoons, and if older people have lost some of their faculties, then taking the piss under the guise of "the butt of jokes" isn't very kind.

As far as my own grandparents were concerned, very different days, the relationships with grandparents tended to be less familiar and demanded more respect and frankly when I started on my genealogy quest a few years back, it made me appreciate that my generation's lot was a pretty easy one in comparison, so in a way I have a posthumous respect for them.

Nelliemoser Sun 15-Mar-15 13:00:41

I think being the "butt of all jokes" implies laughing at someone not with them but it really is a matter of interpretation.

I did not see Virginia Ironsides blogg as implying it was making fun of older people, but of having fun with the children.

Laughing with GCs when they sit you on a whoopy cushion for the umpteenth time is just "playing the game." You have to let your GCs enjoy their silly and harmless jokes, tricks etc. It's what being a GrandP is all about.

I bought a whoopy cushion for DGS at Christmas but put it aside as I think he is a wee bit too young just yet to understand the concept playing jokes.