Friday, August 31, 2007

Mama Sez

How many times do you repeat yourself to your kids? If you are like me, you are probably only uttering about five original sentences per day because the rest of your words are used up by saying the exact same thing to your children about thirty five trillion times in a row. Nothing warms my heart more than being a guest at a friend's house and hearing them say something like, How many times do you need me to say it? You are not eating cake before dinner! Oh that warms the very cockles of my heart, my friends. I never feel closer to a woman than when she is on her third go round with her off-spring.

In this vein, Shannon, better known as the mastermind behind Rocks in my Dryer and Bloggy Giveaways, recently posted about the catchphrases she has developed over her years of raising children. She's got some good ones (try this on for size: Blood, Barf, Bones, or Bad Guys?). I'm thinking of stealing a few, so go check out the rest of her parent-speak here. (oh, and she's also had a pretty rough couple of days, so maybe click over to her main page and leave her a little love note? You're the best!)

In the interest of full disclosure, I thought I'd share some of our parental catchphrases. Some come directly from our own upbringing, some are original, and some are a permutation of the two.

"Tone" : This one started out as a full sentence. We didn't like the way Older Girl was starting to mimic the disrespectful language of television or the playground or school or God-knows-where-else. We started reminding her to "Watch your tone" when speaking to others, and that has now be shortened into one word. But boy does that one word make her, and The Boy, stop and think.

"What's My Answer?": I don't know what happens when I pick up the phone, but my children, who previously could not have been bothered with me, will suddenly need my undivided attention. I know I am not the only parent who goes through this because a good portion of my conversations with my sister-in-law consist of the two of us on the phone with each other but talking to our children. And it is always for an emergency situation like I need a drink! or The video is over! or The mouse on the computer isn't working! I finally got wise and told the kids that whenever they see me on the phone, and they feel an irrepressible need to beg me for something, my answer will automatically be NO. (unless there is a real emergency). Now when they come to me, as their little mouths open into a question, I say, What's my answer? and they (sometimes) desist. Rome wasn't built in a day, my friends.

"This is not a restaurant": I say this at least twice a day. Why? Because Older Girl has got to be the world's pickiest eater. But Aimee, you say, I have a pretty picky eater at my house. Surely she can't be as bad as all that. Oh yes, my friends, it's that bad and worse. Ever meet a child who eats only 2 food groups? No? Come over and have dinner with us. She has gone to parties and eaten nothing. Not even the birthday cake. She didn't even eat her own birthday cake. We have tried everything under the sun to get her to eat, but I think the child lives on air. I have given up the cajoling and the begging and the bribing, and I refuse to make special meals for her. When she balks at a food, I just say: This is not a restaurant. I do not cater. This is dinner, take it or leave it. She usually leaves it, and she is still above the 90th percentile for height. Go figure.

"If I come down there, everyone will be crying": This one is pretty self-explanatory. I am a mother, not a referee, and as such I prefer the children to fight their own battles and sort out their own differences. When I hear a ruckus down in the playroom, or the beginnings of what sound like a very fine bout of tale-telling, I call this phrase down the steps. It is usually met by silence and then, "OK, Mom!"

"Go Big , or Go Home": This phrase has actually turned into something of a family motto. When we say this to the kids, we are not talking about being the biggest or the best. We take this phrase to mean something deeper. We want our kids to do things with their whole hearts, even small things that may seem unappreciated or unnoticed. For us, there is no point in doing a job halfway; you might as well not do it at all. Rob also likes to translate this into military parlance by saying "Don't gundeck it", which he has told me means roughly the same thing. Put your best forward, whether you feel like you will be rewarded or not.

There you have it - some of the most used phrases of The HomeFront Corp. So what about you, my friends? What do you say eleventy hundred times a day? Do tell.


  1. "I don't want to hear it!"
    "No name calling/hitting/screaming or I'll make you sleep in the van!"
    "Don't tell me you're bored (or ask what can we do) or I'll give you a chore" - this even works with neighbor kids!

  2. "Where's the baby?!" Man, has she been getting into trouble lately. It's a good thing for her she's so cute.

    I LOVE your "What's my answer?". I have got to try that one!

  3. Amy Michelle1:12 PM

    "Try again, please" is a five-times-a-day phrase around here. It's the shorthand version of the rather unwieldy, "You need to find a better way to ask for what you want, because shouting 'I'm thirsty' at the top of your lungs just ain't gonna cut it."

  4. "Can you hear me"

    "No, Little A"

    "I love you"

  5. "Is there a question in there?" Usually because someone has demanded a cookie or another snack rather than asked politely for one.

    "I am not your personal trash receptacle." When a boy tries to hand me the wrapper the snack was in ratehr than putting it in the garbage.

    "Bet you can't..." because if we don't turn it into a competition around here it just ain't getting done.

  6. I titally can relate to the emergencies they think they have just because I am on the phone...I am gonna try the "what's my answer?"
    I also use "Repeat what I said. Can't do it? Then sit here until you can". They try harder to listen to instructions now!

  7. I love this!! I love- "If I come down there.." and I'm going to start using "What's my answer." I talk to my sister several times a day and we both spend most of the time talking to our kids.

  8. Bill Cosby has a routine he used to do called "Chocolate Cake." His wife was frazzled, so one day he was "told" to go make breakfast for the kids. He's down there slamming eggs ;-D around when the smallest one, a 5 year old girl wanders in. She spotted chocolate cake on the counter, and said "I want chocolate cake" and he almost said "NO" then caught himself and thought....wait...what goes in chocolate cake? EGGS, FLOUR, MILK... "you want chocolate cake? Coming up!" "Then I looked around for something to drink - aha - GRAPEFRUIT JUICE [audience groans] THESE ARE NOT YOUR CHILDREN!" Then his son came down and spied the youngest with chocolate cake and said "Daa-aaadddd!!!! Why does she have chocolate cake?" "You want some too? HERE." Same thing for all 5 kids. "The kids were having a great time singing my praises: Dad is GREAT ... gave us chocolate cake" And THEN ... my wife walked in... [curtains!] "The enforcer."


Go ahead and say it. You know you want to.