The Family Pun Machine

For roughly the first 6 years of her life, Madison did not understand figures of speech. She understood things exclusively literally and displayed a complete ignorance of subtext. Her evolution in this regard has been slow and it began with puns, that noble of wordplay stalwarts.

It started with Pokemon. “Did you know that ‘Pokemon’ is short for ‘pocket monsters’?” I asked her one day. “Really?” she said. I would ask her “What would Emolga (a Pokemon) be named if she was a plant?” When I received no answer, I said “Treemolga!” Slowly, painstakingly, she caught on. “Dad?” she would ask out of the blue. “What would Pikachu be if there was three of him?” “I don’t  know,” I would say. “Threekachu!” she shouted. I told you. Slowly.

From then she moved on to those awful jokes on Popsicle sticks. Now? She recognizes puns, but it’s still kind of hit or miss. Maybe Pokemon wasn’t the way to go because she started saying things like “Oh! His name is ‘Treecko’ because ‘tree’ and ‘gecko’ because he’s a plant type! Get it?” Then, she started applying this technique to things in real life like “popcorn” and she was thrilled to find that it worked just as well. I try to tell her that not all words work this way, but she doesn’t believe me. I asked why it’s called a helicopter. She looked at me with untrusting eyes, growled, then walked away. We’re scoring that a win.

I’m telling you all of this because Madison’s nascent literary abilities made me laugh so hard I cried today. Here is our conversation:


I don’t know…



Lynnette: Don’t you think that Avery looks like a Monchhichi?
Phil: What?
Lynnette: Doesn’t Avery look like a Monchhichi?
Phil: I don’t know. I never saw one.
Lynnette: What? Really?
Phil: Yeah.
Lynnette: They’re those little cute monkey-creature things.
Madison: Or are they monsters that look like chi-chis?

I think she asked reflexively. She was dumbfounded for a few moments and couldn’t figure out why Lynnette and I were laughing so hard. Then when she did, her face reddened. “I’m not afraid of them,” I said. “Cole and Avery aren’t either!” she squealed. She’s the best!



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