Thinking. But is it actually funny?
Whenever my husband and I go out without our children (which isn't that often these days!) someone always asks us, "So, where are your kids?"
I used to always bring out what I thought was a smart, funny, tongue-in-cheek reply.
"Oh, we left them locked in the cupboard," I'd say. "Threw in some biscuits, so they'll be fine."
And then I met a girl whose father and mother had actually done things as terrible to her as leaving her locked in a cupboard.
I was horrified as I heard some of the stories she told me, and I knew that they were only the tip of the iceberg. She had been insulted, mistreated, beaten, controlled and abused by her parents, the two people who should have protected and loved and appreciated her throughout her growing years.
One day, she saw AP and I out without our children.
"Where are the kids?" she asked.
I started with my usual come-back line, and then realised just what I was saying.
"Oh, um, I left them with my mum," I said, a little shamefaced.
It hit me like a mallet over the head that my 'joke' about abusing my children had been completely unfunny all those years. I resolved then and there never to make another joke in which my children were painted in a bad light, or in which I laughed at abusive parenting.
Yes, sometimes I am a little serious, but after meeting my dear friend, who suffered so much and who still suffers the effects of the abuse, I would rather be a bit of a kill-joy than risk making something that is so dreadfully unfunny into a joke.