Do diapers make you laugh?
I admit I have occasionally found a diaper funny, but this is usually the happy-amusement sort of laughter. It really hadn’t occurred to me that some might find diapers so odd that they use laughter to relieve their discomfort.
My daughter learned the hard way that diapers make children laugh–an extension, I imagine, of the general popularity of bathroom humor. (If I say “butt” to my 5-year old, he’ll laugh no matter what the context.) My daughter told me recently about a conversation between herself (then 7 years old) and two boys (about 8 years old) in the playroom at our grocery store. This happened a while ago. She waited before telling me about it.
“What does your dad do?” asked the boy.
“He dyes fabric so my mother can make diapers.”
They laughed at her. Actually, they were probably laughing at the word “diaper,” but she felt it was at her. She hadn’t expected this response, but she’s heard it a couple of times now. Though some kids thought it was interesting, that isn’t what an 8-year old focuses on.
She has learned to mention my other so-called careers instead.
Her new canned responses:
“What does your dad do?”
“He’s a scientist.”
“What does your mother do?”
“She teaches at the university.”
I told her I’ve learned my own version of this. We talked about learning how and when to people want to hear particular versions of our lives. “I sell cloth diapers” requires a bit of time and context to fit into most people’s version of reality.
Adults titter at the mention of diapers, too.
Lest you think this phenomenon isolated among children, a representative from an environmental news service called me last week.
“Had you heard of our service?”
“Yes. I receive daily email updates.”
“Is it possible you might use our service to publicize a press release?”
“Yes, that is possible.”
“May I ask what your business is?”
“I manufacture and retail cloth diapers.”
“Is that funny?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Really. I would think that someone like yourself would understand the importance of cloth diapers as an environmental issue.”
I’ve heard similar responses, but not from someone whose job is to publicize environmental issues. When people ask what I do, I just raise an eyebrow and say, “I sell cloth diapers.”
I actually enjoy seeing the responses. Some people just let that be a minor point in a conversation and some people take it as a criticism of themselves. The laughter was a new one, though.
With only 3-5% of the baby population in cloth diapers, how do we make diapering choices a serious issue? Some of us already talk about cloth diapers and issues of cost, health, and environment. We aren’t on a soap box all of the time, though.
Can cloth diapers just be normal, mundane, and part of a conversation without being particularly funny? Have you encountered this? What do you do?