Saturday, May 21, 2011

I said that?

“Don’t put stickers on the car door!”

“What are you doing?” to a teenager stuffing an entire tortilla into his mouth in one swoop.

"Why are these here?" asked upon finding six dixie cups of frozen water that now adhere to the floor of the freezer. 
“Please, give me the hammer back…Now!”

There are sentences that need no other explanation in the civilized world other than to say, “I am a parent.” Usually, they translate as imperatives that for all sentient beings, would never need be spoken.

Yet I have begun collecting them as samples of what my offspring require to survive 24 hours in my care. While on the phone with my brother, I heard similar utterances from him at his three children. “Put that down! Stop running into the window!” I started to laugh until I had to shout, “Don’t sit on the baby!” Now it was his turn, but we both recognized conversation was impossible and hung up.

My friends started giving me samples too. "At least it's non-toxic." My sister said as her beloved 2 year old sampled playdough. 

“Who told you you could color your arm purple?” from a kindergarten mom. (It was picture day at school). “It’s a free dress day. I don’t have to wear my uniform.” was the child’s explanation.

My personal favorite was “You made dinner?” from a mother who said she’s still finding sauce stains in her kitchen from her fifth grader's experiment.

What is unsaid and unexplained about raising children often transcends what stories are told. Part of the omission is from personal shame. We can’t explain why our child had a three gallon water bottle in the middle of his room. We asked. He didn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to go the extra five feet to his bathroom sink to get a drink. We still don’t understand. 

Part of it is the dim recognition that too much truth may be unbearable. Yes, she colored on the piano with a permanent black marker. Yes, he hid dirty clothes in a drawer until they fermented. Yes the toddler took a bite out of a tomato because she thought it was an apple and spiked the offending vegetable onto the newly clean floor. The amount of labor and property damage in those three sentences alone may be enough to doom the human race if universally disseminated.

When I asked my mom about these sorts of odd phrases that were coming out of my mouth as correctives of my children, she laughed. “I told you about that when you were a kid...” “What was that? Mom? Hold on. Sweetie, stop squirting the instant mop on the wooden floor. Don’t pull your brother on a towel…” “But Mommmmm, we were playing sled.”

"What was that Mom?"
“See dear, you just weren’t listening.” My Mom answered over the phone.

It may be a dodge, but it’s a good dodge. I’m keeping it for when my kids have kids.

P.S. Today I said, and meant with all my heart, "Don't throw the cat at the chandelier." Son was tossing his beanie baby in the empty dining room and it got stuck. It's like they're secretly reading these posts!

1 comment:

Natalie said...

The one I'm using the most now is "Don't lick that!" upon seeing my son lick the real horse he was riding.

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