Friday, March 31, 2006

"As Mom used to say..."

Songbird writes:
This morning I had a moment in which I found myself wanting to reply to my teenager the way my father used to reply to me. Most of us have some classic family phrases or retorts or truisms handed down from parents to children. Name five things you used to hear your mother or father (or even a grandparent) say, especially things you might be surprised to hear coming out of your own mouth.

As per the RevGals Friday Five, here are some things my folks told me when I was a kid. This was, by the way, a surprisingly stressful little exercise. It seems fraught with danger - like I'll be painting an imcomplete picture (which I will be) and also, weirdly, like I'm giving away family secrets of some kind (well, probably, but not the real juicy ones). It's rather alarming how many one-liners that I remember are about housekeeping. Clearly THAT hasn't stuck all that well, except as metaphor, which is how I choose to see it.

Well, as usual, I probably just need to lighten up and stop talking so much, so here is what I remember in oft-repeated statements and occassional advice.

1. Never leave the house with the dryer running. In one of my snottier early-20's moments, I once told a friend that this was the ONLY piece of advice that my mother gave me in childhood, which it obviously is not. Still, it's stuck there for some reason. I think it's because I never thought of my mom as particularly careful (she drove that Fiat like a bat out of Italy, for example) but this was the one piece of advice in which she really seemed to be erring on the side of caution. By the way, I ignore this piece of advice frequently in my adulthood, but I always feel a little thrill of anxiety whenever I do.

2. Go wait in the car. I'll be right out. said while standing half-dressed in front of the bathroom mirror with a mascara wand in one hand This, I never understood as a kid. It was clear that she would NOT be right out and that the four of us kids would wait in the car for some unmeasurable while before it really was time to go. As a mom of only one kid, I totally get it. Now, when my whole family is out of the house, I walk from room to room, relishing the echo-y quiet. Now, I imagine that's what she was doing, too.

3. That kid is a handful Pretty much the worst thing that could be said about any difficult child, but almost always one outside our family circle. WE were never handfuls.

4. We don't take out the garbage. That's why we have boys. One treasure from my childhood is the special closeness I had with my mom as the only two females in a family full of males. It was usually a subtext, but every now and then something like this would slip out, and I would see that she got the specialness of it too.

5. Mom: I want you home by 11 and I'm not kidding!
My brother: Oh, mom, you're such a kidder.

For some reason it totally cracked us up every time he said this. Can't figure out why now, but still makes me chuckle why I'm writing it.

Bonus: Said by all members of the family at different times upon making a mess, or coming upon a mess made by someone else.
Just leave it. The Magic Maid will get it.
Repeated often after my dad cracked us up inadvertantly when in a moment of fuming frustration he asked, "What you think, some Magic Maid is just going to come in here and clean this up?"

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