She loves jokes. She just doesn’t get the delivery.

“Okay, okay,” I say. “You’re going to have to practice. Let me tell you a joke that will CRACK PEOPLE UP. My mother used to laugh every single time. It was the best joke.” (Really it is the only one I can remember at the moment).

Her blue eyes shine. She bounces. “Tell me!”

“First I have a question: Do you know what unique means?”

She looks puzzled. “I don’t think so.”

“It means one of a kind, a thing that is different from anything else in the world.”

“Oh, like very special.”

“Yes! Exactly! Unique means very special and not like anything else. So are you ready for this joke?”

She nods. “Ready!”

“Here goes… How do you catch a unique animal?”

She pretends to think, hand on chin. “I don’t know!”

You neek up on it. Get it?”

She looks blank.

“Like, you sneak up on it but instead of ‘sneak’ you say ‘neek’: You neek up on it…”

“Ohh, you take off the ‘s’ and… neek!” She dissolves in giggles.

We practice this over and over:

How do you catch a unique animal?

You neek up on it!

She belly laughs, every time.

When my son and his wife come to collect her, she runs to them with glee:

“Franna taught me a joke!”

“Great,” says my son, with absolutely NO enthusiasm. “She likes jokes, Mom; she doesn’t get how to tell them…”

“Ahem,” I warn. “She’s been working hard on this.”

I am sure I detect a tiny sigh, but my son says: “Okay, let’s hear it.”

“How do you catch a unique animal?” She can barely contain herself. Wait for it, wait for it…

Her parents look at each other and shrug.

“We don’t know. How do you catch a unique animal?” asks her mom.


They crack up, and the look on her face…priceless.

Little unique creature. You neek up on my heart, over and over and over again.

Kinda like that joke.

My son says: “She just keeps telling it over and over, Mom. We’ve heard it a million times. It was funny like the first two times, but…”

“It’s her joke. Let her enjoy it.”

She’s a masterpiece in the making, see. At age five, she’s read Charlotte’s Web. Independently, with some questions about how to pronounce some words…I wondered how much she understood, really, but then my daughter-in-law tells this story: They were baking the other day and my unique animal was rolling out her dough with extreme care.

“Oh, you’re doing a nice job,” said my daughter-in-law.

“Thank you,” said my granddaughter, sprinkling flour. “It’s my magnum opus.”

“Your… what?”

Magnum opus. It means ‘great work’.” And she patted away at the dough.

Great work…like mastery of that joke.

Dear, dear Charlotte… messages from one unique animal to another… magnum opus, indeed.

A unique moment with my unique granddaughter. We went to see the waterfall at the park. She’s holding my husband’s walking stick and wearing my “fancy” watch on her left arm, plus one of my sunhats. We pulled our masks away for the photo.


The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers is underway, meaning that I am posting every day in the month of March. This marks my fifth consecutive year and I’m experimenting with an abecedarian approach: On Day 21, I am writing around a word beginning with letter u.

30 thoughts on “Unique

  1. Joke delivery is definitely a learned behavior. Most little kids aren’t there yet and some adults never arrive. I love that she keeps neeking up on your – and that you share it with us. These slices will be treasured, I am sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was not expecting that. I saw so much potential for problems: Hey Mom, I have a joke. How do you catch a special animal…?” Or “Hey Mom, how do you catch a unique animal? By neeking up on it!” But no, she nailed it. I have quite a few fifth graders who sort of get the gist of a joke and then tell it approximately. Now that I think of it, joke telling is all in the precision. Love the way you told this.

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  3. I love this! The shaping of beautiful spirit in a child – like patting the dough. My favorite sentence from CW is where Fern and Avery are in the barn, swinging high. White tells us, “Children always hold on to things tighter than their parents think they will.” Another great lesson in parenting and grandparenting – you are doing a great job!

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  4. Special moments with your unique granddaughter. Priceless. I love how you weave your story around the word and the joke. The telling is seamless and shows how special your relationship is. And how about your grandma name: Franna! I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fran, I trust you are tagging these posts to print and bind for your granddaughter, as these memories are so very precious and exquisitely penned. “Now We Are Six” by A.A. Milne just popped into my head, though I’m not really sure why…maybe because it echoes your theme of wide-eyed, taking-it-all-in learning and imagination that you encourage with your granddaughter–joke-telling skills included.

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  6. Super small moment! I love your line, “Ahem,” I warn…
    And “my magnum opus”- she owns that wonderful phrase now! A word lover like her Franna.
    I’ll be stealing your joke, BTW, for my own unique loved one.
    And I hope readers will share your patience and appreciation for those of us who need to learn to tell jokes !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You know how much I love a grandchild story. I can hear your voice in this, and the proud way she tells her new joke. I had fun teaching Leo a new word yesterday. We were talking about the leaf blower. He said, “too noisy.” I said, “Yes, it’s obnoxious. Can you say that?” “Noxious!” Well, yes, Leo, that, too.
    Keep capturing these unique moments, Fanna.

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  8. Grandparents are the BEST. I have loved watching my mom flourish with our son the last 19 months as a first timer. I know they will have these moments, and I’m already so thankful. You are SUCH an amazing and patient and encouraging Franna. This relationship is so tender; thank you for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know your mother must treasure every moment with your precious Elias. I was very close to one of my grandmothers in particular and it is a deep, rich joy to live in this taking-up-the-mantle role she played; it brings her near again. Makes the connection even more meaningful. I am mindful that as my granddaughter and I live these bright moments to their fullest, we are making memories. Such a lovely, thoughtful comment – thank you Britt!


  9. Oh such a brilliant story, you capture the dialogue and the essence of excitement so well. How wonderful she must be and who knows what the future may hold for her…not really surprising with a gran like you! Love the uniqueness of the joke too, I’ll never forget that one!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I LOVE THIS! Never underestimate the power of a good kid riddle. And what I love about it? The joke gets stale. Of COURSE it does! They’re kinda dumb jokes to begin with. But then we see the enjoyment that kids get every single time they tell it. THAT’s the entertaining part of it all. There was one riddle like that for me and my son #2. We came across it in a comic book – the two characters were reduced to tears at the joke. Here goes. What’s twice as funny as foot? FEET?
    …get it…?….get it…?…ah, guess you had to be there. =))

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🤣🤣🤣 Oh, Lainie… if I say your food joke is “lame”… too much pun… ahem. Yes, the real joy is experiencing the comic zeal of children around a joke. Hilarious in itself. Reminds us that laughter – like children- is a gift.


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