Small child plus spaghetti usually equals a big mess. For a parent, it’s equal parts entertainment and teachable moment. Few things in family life have as much comedic value as a small child covered in pasta and tomato sauce, but the ultimate goal is to teach your child to be neater at the table.

One day, when Logan was making a mess at the table, Brian saw how humor can help reinforce serious learning, which he outlines in Chapter 14, “Hi, Napkin! I’m Logan!”

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It was the tail end of a weekday. I had been in the office all day; Kelly had been at home, where Logan was particularly hyper. He had spent the balance of the day running his mother ragged, and by the time I pulled into the driveway, she was a rubber band stretched to its elastic limit.

So she failed to see the humor when we sat down for dinner and Logan, predictably, started to put the spaghetti sauce just about everywhere except his mouth. We launched into the usual parental monologue about wiping your face and hands and keeping the table clean, of which Logan heard approximately four words.

Those words were likely “Make … a … mess … Logan.”

I was starting to lose it. I bit my lip to keep from laughing as I watched Logan. But Kelly was simmering. Finally, she had had enough. She reached across the table, grabbed Logan’s still-spotless napkin and held it up to him.

“Logan, I’d like you to introduce yourself to your napkin.” But if Kelly could do sarcastic, so could Logan, even at 3 years old. Logan flashed Kelly a heavy-lidded look that said, “For real? Seriously, Mom?” He took the napkin, and in his best over-the-top voice, greeted his napkin as Kelly had instructed.

Self-control gone, I was mid-sip of my beverage and had an honest-to-goodness spit take. I started coughing.

Logan kept a straight face as he paused and waited for the napkin to reply. Finally, he said, “Mom, I don’t think the napkin wants to talk right now.”

I had to leave the room to avoid creating that awkward moment where one parent is trying to discipline a child while the other parent can’t help but see the entertainment value in the situation. But it all ended well. Logan ended up with a clean face, with Kelly’s help, and even Kelly was able to eventually crack a smile about the whole thing.

Looking back, it was a serious parenting situation at its heart. We were trying to teach Logan table manners, which he’ll need to master as he grows up. Logan was resisting. He defused the tension with humor, but in the end, if he continued to resist Kelly, he would have been punished.

But it was the fun that Kelly and Logan injected into the situation that made it memorable. We got our point across to Logan, and what could have been a situation with a great deal of agitation turned into something fun, without losing the overall message. We were productive, yet we had a laugh at the same time.

Really, it’s a perfect lesson to learn in the world of business.