For The Children
My daughter was nagging—er, persistently requesting something recently, and in a fit of exasperation I said, “We’ll see.” She walked away doing the little fist-pump “Yes!” thing. And I thought, Oh, isn’t that cute? She still thinks that means “you might have a shot,” rather than “I know if I say this you will leave me in peace.” How sweet!
And I don’t mean to be a cruel mommy, either. I do think her innocence is adorable. I’m also keenly aware that it’s going to last about another week. After all, she has a big brother who’s been there and done that, and it’s getting more and more challenging for him to keep his enlightenment to himself.
I’ve therefore taken it upon myself to produce this for the children, a “parent-to-English dictionary” of sorts. My hope is that if I come clean with this stuff now, the kids will remember my generosity and provide a similar “teen-to-English” version when the time comes. And yes, I’ll let you know how that works for me.
So, children, let’s start with the basics. When I say to you, “Don’t make me come in there,” it means, I’m coming in there. Not this second, maybe, because I’m either napping or busy, but rest assured, I’m coming in there. So knock it off.
“My patience is wearing thin” really means my patience was gone about five minutes ago and my head is going to blow off my neck if you don’t stop doing what you’re doing or start doing what you’re being told to do.
“Am I talking to myself here?” You guys really seem to love this one, often responding with a resounding “Yes!” But of course I know I’m not talking to myself. It’s called a rhetorical question. What it means is, “Somebody in this house had better start listening to me, and it had better not just be the dog.”
“Every day is children’s day” admittedly used to bother me as much as it bothers you, but you’ll understand when you have kids of your own. For now, you’ll just have to trust me on this one. It means that Mommy is treated special one day a year; you are treated special every single flippin’ day of your lives.
“If you don’t stop crying, I’m going to give you something to cry about!” Let me start this one by saying, “Yes, I get it. You already had something to cry about or you wouldn’t be crying.” What I mean is, I don’t think what you’re crying about is worth crying about, and if you don’t stop, then you’ll have something worthwhile to be crying about. Make sense?
“Pick up your room.” This is another one that you people seem to get a kick out of. Yes, I’m aware you can’t actually pick up your room. It’d be too heavy. What I mean is PICK THE STUFF UP OFF THE FLOOR, before everything you own becomes a chew toy.
“Stop it”—and this is one of my favorites—means stop it now. Not in two minutes, not in 10 minutes, not in an hour. Stop. It. Now. (Also applies to “Go to bed,” “Turn that down” and “Do your homework.”)
Last but not least, no, I don’t actually have eyes in the back of my head. What this means is that mommies pretty much know everything you do. We’re all-seeing. There is no escaping us. It’s designed to encourage you to behave yourselves. See how all this works? Awesome. Lesson over.
In the meantime, my son wants to know if I’m going to discuss things parents say that children think are really just kind of, in his words, “stupid.” A particular pet peeve of the younger set is the old “Because I said so” philosophy, which evidently intelligent children everywhere find ridiculous if not completely weenie-ish.
So he has a point. Parents say some pretty silly things sometimes, from a kid’s perspective. Are they deserving of airtime, so to speak? Worthy of ink? Will I break down and give children everywhere the satisfaction of admitted parental imperfection, all in the hope that my kids might possibly talk to me in five years? Hmmmmm.
Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.