Tell me your inside jokes

I don’t remember what we were reading, but some book referenced inside jokes.  Inevitably, “Mom, what’s an inside joke?”

Hmm.  You know, it’s that thing where something is funny to you that isn’t funny to other people.  Uh, because context.  Because they weren’t there when something happened.  Because other people aren’t in on the joke.  (Or some other similarly cogent explanation.)

Like . . . I scratched my head for examples . . . when . . .

But after fumbling, I realized our family does have inside “jokes,” and I’m guessing yours does too.  These are some of ours.


Once upon a time in Rome, we used to amuse ourselves on car trips by making lists of things we hoped to see and then trying to spot them.  We didn’t write them down or anything.  We weren’t diligent about playing.  But it was something fun to try and get the kids from raging about being trapped in their car seats.

Somehow after doing this a million times, spotting a wheelbarrow became our great white whale.  They were very rare, but it was just possible to spot them.  Eventually, we didn’t actually add wheelbarrow to the list, but it was always implied that it was there and it was known that if you spotted an elusive wheelbarrow you got ALL the points (there were no points) and there would be much rejoicing.

Now, with all the construction sites here, wheelbarrows are a dime a dozen.  Even so, we can’t seem to stop yelling WHEELBARROW when we spot one.  It’s probably more me and James at this point, but the kids get it.

Table Manners!

When someone is misbehaving or says a no no word for the table (butt, poop, fart, etc. – we say them, but not at the table), other family members will look at the offender and shout TABLE MANNERS.

I’m not entirely sure how/when this started, but this shorthand clearly lets the person know that they are doing something they shouldn’t be.  We all giggle because yelling table manners at someone is also kind of the opposite of table manners.  It’s silly.

So far it isn’t a total gotcha tactic, and it isn’t so loud or frequent to be obnoxious.  (Although this is usually done at home.)  The kids like that any family member can call table manners on any other.

We are dabbling with other forms of this to get people to take a breath and stop what they are doing in other situations.  Like yelling Brother Manners or Car Manners.  It was the kids’ idea of what to try when they are raging.  It hasn’t quite caught on yet, but Table Manners is definitely in full effect.


We’ve spent more times in aquariums than I expected.  I mean aquariums are super awesome; it makes sense that we’ve been seeking them out.  But maybe I didn’t realize the extent of being an aquarium family until writing this.

We’ve been to the aquarium in Malta four times.  We’ve been to the aquarium in Malacca (meh) and KL (also meh).  We went to the aquarium in Hanoi and Barcelona and Atlanta where I get frustrated that the kids won’t just let me stare at the big ocean tank all day.  What can I say?  We like aquariums.

So there are many undersea creatures (sharks) that I like to see (sharks) when we go (also sharks), but perhaps none is so rare as the elusive octopus.

You guys know what I’m talking about.  There is one octopus that stays curled up in an impossibly small corner of the tank and you never really get to see it doing its octopus thing.  It’s very frustrating.  (The exception to this is the tank in Barcelona where they have about a dozen in a tank and I wanted to stay there ALL day.)

Particularly in Malta, I would make us backtrack back and forth past the octopus tank to see if he had FINALLY come out of his hole.  (He really never did.)

So now the kids give me a hard time about whether an aquarium will have an octopus or whether we’ll get to see it when we go.  It’s all good natured teasing and totally fair.  I really DO want to see an octopus.

I’m sure we have more, but that’s all I can think of for now.  What about you?  What things do your family “get” that leave the rest of us scratching our heads?  Tell us your inside jokes!

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