In every parent’s life, there are times you hear yourself channeling your parents in the things you say. Usually, it happens when you are imparting advice or rules or some little bit of wisdom to your child.
Rules are good; they are in place to keep your child safe and healthy and growing up to be a productive member of society, and to keep parents sane and avoiding having to buy cast-iron furniture and shell out massive amounts of money on therapy.
We have these little bits of advice or rules or pearls of wisdom, too, and I hear myself saying them on a regular basis. Although ours are less of the “Always-look-both-ways-before-you-cross-the-street” variety and more of the “If-you-keep-making-that-face-your-face-will-freeze-like-that” variety.
Here are some of the little pearls of wisdom heard recently around our house:
- “No stage diving until you become a rock star.”
Variation on the “While you live in this house, you will follow my rules” saying.
Whenever our daughter is in her high chair, and I take the tray off, she lurches forward to do something. Usually she’s grabbing the saddle horn-thingy that sticks up between her legs as a safety measure to keep her from falling, or leans over the side of the chair to see what’s there, or grasps madly at the seat belt in an attempt to unbuckle it. But we don’t like the whole idea of her lurching forward and potentially flying off the chair. Of course, when she’s a grownup — especially a famous one making buckets more money than we do — well, she’s free to lurch and throw herself off whatever she pleases.
- “Good friends don’t drop friends on the floor (from so high up).”
Variation on the Golden Rule, or perhaps the saying “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.”
Our washer and dryer is in our upstairs bathroom. And we have converted the top of the dryer into a change table. Now, That Baby’s a fidgety sort, so we have an assortment of objects on top of the dryer to keep her amused and relatively still during diaper changes — socks, a bib, some toys. Previously, we had a small Tigger there, but he’s since been relocated, and in his place we have Barbra the purple hippo, a new great pal from Santa.
Well, like most kids, Stinkerbelle is going through the phase of knocking her toys on the floor, and waiting to see what happens. It’s hard, in the midst of a stinky diaper change, to constantly bend down and pick Barbra up off the floor… hence the evolution of this particular bit of advice.
- “That kitty is NOT for playing with.”
Variation on any number of rules used to keep children away from hot stoves, knives, and other dangerous objects.
Our cat Opus is 19 years old. She’s deaf. She’s a bit senile. And she is crochety. And, like a stove, depending on when you approach her and how, you could be in for a nasty surprise. (Well, not really… she’s mostly harmless. Being dangerous requires effort and power, and quite honestly, she’s too tiny and old. She’s more about the shouting.) But just to spare Opus the aggravation, and to spare the household the shouting, we have a rule in place about That Kitty, which applies not only to kids but to other cats as well. (Plus it makes Opus feel all tough and gangsta. She likes that.)
- “You have to eat all your oatmeal so you can grow up big and strong and ride your motorcycle through Siberia.”
Variation on any number of exhortations to get your child to eat what he or she does not want to eat.
For Christmas, we got the Long Way Round and Long Way Down series of DVDs and books. And we’ve watched and read them already. We really enjoyed them. And in one of them, Ewan McGregor tells you that a particular day’s ride is going to be tough and cold, and so they are having extra rations of oatmeal to fuel up for it. So… it seemed more interesting and persuasive than “eat this because there are kids starving in Yupookistan” or whatever.
- “If you do that again, you’re going to get a visit from the Smack Fairy.”
Variation on the old classic “Wait until your father gets home.”
All parents have times when they get exasperated with their kids, and they just have to think of something to say to get their kids to behave and know who’s boss. For some kids, it was “Wait until your father gets home”. Often, it was “Don’t make me pull this car over.” For BDH and myself, it was “I’m going to get the wooden spoon…”
Most kids THINK they know that nothing bad will happen. But it makes them stop for a second and think, “Hmmm. Possibly there will be serious repercussions if I continue this errant behaviour, and I should heed my parent’s warning.” And mostly, it’s an idle threat.
We have one. And so far, it’s only been tested on the cats. And they, like a human child, mostly ignore us. But it makes us FEEL like we’re in charge. So… it seems to be a winner.
Credit goes to Fry and Laurie on the Smack Fairy. I couldn’t make that up myself.
- “Don’t put your feet in the poo.”
Variation on any number of rules set up by parents to make day-to-day life easier for all concerned, usually followed by “…because I said so” or “…because I’m your mother.”
While changing a child’s diaper, conventional wisdom says it is easiest to grab said child by her ankles/feet, and hoist her bum in the air in order to remove the offending diaper and all nasty items contained therein and access and clean all of said child’s undercarriage. Sometimes, however, you must loosen or change your grip — if, for example, you need to reach for something, or you find yourself having inadvertently gotten something nasty on your hand. It happens.
Now, when changing her diaper, Stinkerbelle has a habit, if you let her feet go for even one second, of slamming them down into the poo. Which then means, not only are you cleaning her bum and your hands, but also her feet and toes and whatever she’s managed to put them on in the split second it has taken you to react (clothing, change table, wall, her hands, whatever).
There are several variants to this rule, including “Don’t put your feet in the pee”, “Don’t stick Barbra in the pee”, and the ever-popular “Don’t put that THERE”. And I think you know what I mean.
- “Your mother is not a large piece of mobile furniture.”
Another variation on the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you wish to be treated”.
My daughter is recently into clambering all over me, heaving herself to and fro, stomping on me, smacking various bits of my person, and just generally having a good time when sitting on my lap or being cuddled. All kids go through it. It’s like they don’t grasp that you are an actual person, and not something provided solely for their entertainment. Quelle surprise.
- “Don’t kick Daddy in the noonies. He might need them someday.”
Variation on… Nah. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
- “Don’t lick strangers.”
A variation on the Golden Rule. Or maybe it’s the stove thing. It could go either way.
Variations on this rule include “Don’t fart on <insert name>, you’ve only just met him/her” and “Don’t barf on <insert name>, that’s not cool”. And really, these are rules we can all live by, aren’t they?
So, yeah, some would say we’re strict with all these rules. Possibly they’re not exactly the stuff that gets passed down from father to son or whatever. But I think we’re just being practical.
And when our child isn’t licking you, you’ll thank us for it.