“Daddy, do bunny-rabbits cut up other furry animals with their little rabbit knives?” Says Jack to me two weeks ago during bedtime. “What?” I say, with not a small amount of horror, as my mind races to figure out if my two-year-old son has any idea what he’s saying.
“Do they cut them all up?” He deadpans… his four-year-old brother starts laughing. “With their knives Daddy, with their knives?”
Meet Jack Charles Graham, the King of the One-Liners
My two-year-old is known around our house as the King of the One-Liners. Jack learned to speak early and is a constant source of entertainment. He spits out something great every day and my wife and I are pretty sure if we set up a Twitter account for him he’d go viral.
It made me ask, “why is my son, Jack Graham, so entertaining?”
Jack Graham is Made To Stick
I started to ask myself how a two-year-old could be sooo good at this, and it dawned on me that his best one-liners almost always hit each point on the SUCES checklist, which can be found in Chip and Dan Heath’s Classic Book “Made to Stick.”
The now quasi-famous acronym provides a really simple checklist for determining whether something will work for content marketing. The acronym goes: Simple, Unexpected, Credible, Emotional Stories.
Jack hits on all of these consistently. His limited language skills keep things very simple, his newness to the world makes most of what he says unexpected, and what he says is credible because he doesn’t know how to lie yet! Also, toddlers in general are very emotional… and yes, there’s always a story...
When I probed Jack about why he wanted to know about bunny knives, he told me he was wondering how bunnies got food and how they defended themselves from predators. His question was actually a story about how he was trying to make sense of the world and how a defenseless animal could survive… so certainly, they must have knives?
Here Are The Recent Top-Five From Jack
Using the SUCES checklist, do a mental inventory with each of these recent classics from Jack. Each of these-mini stories has an element of being simple, unexpected, credible and emotional.
“It’s our job to screw scary animals” (Jack was referring to building cages for animals with a screwdriver).
“Butchers don’t kill cows.” We respond with, yes, they actually do. “Um, butchers just kill pretend cows.” Sorry son, they’re real, we say. His voice raised he pronounces: “WELL THEY DON’T KILL REAL ROUND TALKING COWS!” (Jack was trying to make sense of where his food came from, and the dignity and intelligence of created beings).
“Daddy, the minivan is going to squish me all up, and you’ll have to make me stand up in the parking lot?” (Jack was trying to understand why the parking lot is dangerous, and what my role was in protecting him).
“Beep, beep, beep” goes Jack’s toy cement truck, headed toward his toy lion “Ahh, yum, yum, yum” says the lion as it devours the cement coming from the back. His brother, appalled, tells him that Lions eat grass and animals. Jack’s reply? “This one can. This is a cement-eating Lion!” (Jack was trying to reconcile the animal kingdom with civilization).
“That tractor is going to cut me in half!” Jack says in terror as he safely watches, from my arms, as a tractor harmlessly mows the local sports field 1/2 kilometer away. “You’ll hit that tractor if it cuts me in half?” (Jack was learning my role in protecting him, that machinery is powerful, and what constitutes a safe distance).
So What’s This All Mean?
I think this all means we can afford to think with the freshness and simplicity of a toddler when expressing ourselves. Look at the world with a simple, curious lens and don’t be afraid to be unexpected.