A friend of mine was recently horrified to hear herself actually say, “Because I said so” to her two-year-old daughter. Jokingly, I told her that if her daughter protested she needed to pull out my own mom’s favorites: either, “If you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about,” and, “I’ll knock your teeth from here to China!”
I should note here that my own mom spanked me probably three times in my entire life, and these threats usually inspired giggles rather than terror. I suspect that my mom was probably horrified to hear herself throw out the teeth-smacking line, given that it was probably a throwback to my grandmother.
But then I was thinking, one day I’ll have kids (who I hope turn out just like you, threatens my mother), what lines will I surely be appalled to hear myself saying? Of course there is the standby, “I don’t want to hear another peep out of either of you.” Which would, predictably, entice my sister and I to engage in a chorus of, “Peep! Peep Peep Peep!” My mom also used the, “Because I said so,” and, “Because I’m the mom, that’s why” lines with frequency. I assume they must be in some sort of a manual they give you at the hospital.
Ever the source of aggravation for my mom, when I was an older child and teenager my mother took to responding to me with, “Goddammit, Luci!” Which is actually what my inner monologue now says when I am frustrated with my own actions.
Here’s one I actually did catch myself saying to my hungover boyfriend this past Sunday: “If you dance, you have to pay the piper.” A smug refrain from my mom starting when my sister and I were in college and she would find us, Saturday
morning afternoon, laid up on the couch next to a bowl and a glass of water. When we were older teens and adults, my mom’s dating advice to me and my sister was, “It’s a date to the prom (or, an invitation to drinks, or a free dinner) not a commitment for life!” My mom holds firm to the “You have to kiss a few (dozen) frogs” philosophy of romance. Although when we talk about old flames, my mom laments how many goddamn frogs were in the lot.
What about you? What old standbys did your own mama use? And moms, any you have heard yourself say that shocked you?