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“Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.”

Mark Twain

Big Girl and Middle Girl. One Saturday morning, I take them for tea. Well, not really. Really, I take them for banana bread and berries and chocolate milk served in an exquisite and consummately breakable "kitty" tea pot. The place - Alice's Tea Cup - is one of our favorites. Because of Little Girl's arrival, we haven't been there in a while and the girls are excited. Upon arrival, a kind waiter hands them each a pair of fairy wings. With my help, they slide their little arms through the rubber bands, all smiles.

We settle at a small table in the middle of the restaurant. Middle Girl refuses her high chair. Yet another sign that she is growing up. The girls sit together in the booth. Behind them, their wings dance as they bounce and bellow silly, made-up songs. A waitress comes. I order in a hurry knowing that our time in this quaint haven is limited. The waitress places three tea cups down in front of us. My instinct is to pull the girls' cups away and ask for plastic, but this time I leave them there. And watch.

Once upon a time, they might have grabbed these cups and knocked them on the table. But this time, they sit back. Middle Girl studies her cup. Her eyes twinkle. She says something.

Mama, she says.

Yes, sweets?

This, she says, blues eyes big, fingers tracing the curved handle of her cup. This is not a trophy!

For some reason - maybe it's her delivery, or her tiny size, or the inflection in her still-baby voice - this strikes us as absolutely hilarious. The three of us Rowley girls erupt into messy, too-loud-for-a-restaurant laughter. I had no idea she knew the word trophy. I had no idea she was so funny.

I am flooded with questions: When is humor born? Is it inherited or acquired? What makes someone funny?

And I have no answers. But I am thankful for another good moment and another good laugh, for little girls wearing wings, for that little cup. For the trophy that is family.


Are you funny? Do you think humor is hard-wired or learned? Are your children funny? Is there anything objective about humor or is it entirely relative?

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