Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cap Crib Sheet for the Crib Set

Over the past two years of writing humor pieces, my focus has been squarely on translating the many moods and meanings of phrases uttered by my offspring. Today, in light of my more mature children raising the question of equal time, I humbly offer this crib sheet for Common Adult Phrases, CAP for short. Use with disgression as dialects vary according to the mood and level of exhaustion of the pertinent adult.

CAP warning: "I'm Bored." This phrase, perhaps more than any other causes instant irritation in any adult, related or otherwise. We translate it to mean, "Entertain me! For I, the magnificent child crave a diversion." Avoid variants like "There's nothing to do." as they also get filtered as "I can be bribed with food, a new toy or the promise of something really big." As a mother, there is really only one appropriate response to such a statement. Work. "Here's a toilet brush. Go scrub. Do your homework, read a book. Fold laundry." Understand I will continue to put forth unpleasant options that serve my own purposes until you stop saying it or come up with your own alternative. Consider it a forbidden phrase, like Voldemort.

CAP approved translation of "Be quiet." Adults seldom celebrate opposite day. We actually mean what we say. When we have a phone call, it is not time to play orchestra with pots and pans or even real instruments. Miscellaneous screaming and yelling to test the acoustics of a room is also taboo when Mom is holding that rectangular object up next to her ear and trying to speak.

CAP approved meaning of phrase uttered: "I'm going to the bathroom." Like you, we also suffer from the affliction of being actual animals. We occasionally, like you, need to be alone. I promise, just because the door is locked and we aren't responding to your lamb like bleating in the other room, doesn't mean we've grabbed the keys, hit the gas and abandoned ship. Five minutes is all we're talking here. Even hitting your sister can hold for 300 seconds. Just spend the time anticipating the satisfying sound of the smack when I'm back in operational mode and able to step in and stop the violence.

CAP understanding of a tendency of Adults in communication: "Put a coat on...or any variant of redirection about clothing." You are kids. You are busy. You have walls to scribble, toys to play with, hidden stashes of food to eat, you don't have time to mess with such mundane things as climate appropriate attire. Being boring adults, we pay attention to such items as the weather and the news and school memos. So we really do know that you have to wear red, white and blue on election day, and that you're supposed to wear black pants and a white shirt for the band concert. We feel concern that you have a light poncho and it's forecasting 30 mile winds and cold rain this afternoon. Likewise, years of experience have taught us, the Hawaiian shirt in mid January is a no go, ditto on the shorts, and that white socks with dark pants are always icky.

CAP explained: "Did you...brush your teeth?" "Today?" "This morning?" "With toothpaste?" Mom and Dad are doing fine financially, thank you very much for your concern. We appreciate your attempts to economize by cutting back on such indulgent niceties as personal hygiene. Trust us when we say with great love in our hearts, we'll take out a loan if necessary, but bathe regularly, use soap and shampoo, and brush your teeth.

CAP Origin: “Absolutely Not.” “Nyet.” “Not Happening.” “I don’t think so.” “Not in this lifetime.” “Never.” “Stop now.” “Cease!” Parents like to build children’s vocabulary and we get tired of saying the same thing over and over again, so all of these phrases are variants of the same thing, the need by appointed legal guardians of you minors to express disapproval. You now will do better on your SAT’s as you have mastered ten different ways to say “NO.” Especially now that you understand what they mean.

CAP Motto and sub text translation of all prior CAPs: “We love you.” Adults are never ironic or sarcastic when uttering this phrase, although sometimes we are reminding ourselves of this crucial fact when we say it.

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