A few weeks ago I wrote a column about some of the typical and repetitive things kids say in response to their parents. I figured it would only be fair to turn the tables, and ask my 13 and 10-year-old kids what they think are some of the typical and repetitive things that parents say.
I wasn’t at all surprised to learn their list began with…
In my opinion, offering this handy answer-without-answering is good for a great many situations. Sometimes, it is extremely well-received by my kids, like the days that selective listening allows them to hear and believe that the adult’s answer was actually a resounding “yes.” But alternatively, on a bad day it can plunge them into the depths of despair, when they are certain that there is no hope that the temporary answer will become a yes, since the adults are plotting to ruin their lives by “never letting them do anything!”
Stop bugging your sister/brother/brother/sister…
Although each child is certain that the other is solely responsible for (He started it! She started it!) the on-going teasing, it’s fair to say I speak this admonishment to each about half the time. But it really doesn’t matter “how many times I tell them” to leave one another alone, because this world they inhabit as they attempt to deflect guilt while simultaneously tossing great big logs onto the fire, is completely impenetrable by my repetitive phrases.
Just you worry about yourself
In response to: Why can/can’t he/she do/don’t do that? (Yes, it is very confusing.)
This is delivered in an expectant, eyebrow-raised manner when trying to elicit a response in place of dead air where a “thank you” should have been. My kids are generally pretty good with their manners, but do occasionally need this gentle, if not slightly annoying – to issue and to hear – reminder.
Do you mean, “Pardon?”
This is used when they don’t hear the first time, and request that the speaker repeat what has been said. I’m quite certain that they really mean to say “Pardon?” rather than the barely discernable grunt of “Huh?’ or “What?”
Either spoken, or mouthed with brow heavily furrowed for emphasis, this may be accompanied by a finger crossed over and firmly tapping my mouth. The manner in which I deliver this depends on how many times I’ve already shushed them and in what situation. For example, if I’m in the middle of a phone conversation and the child in question seems entirely oblivious to this, I let my facial contortions and frantic pointing toward the phone speak for themselves.
Because I said so
This comes with a similar level of satisfaction, I suspect, as thrusting a flag into the icy summit of Mount Everest…after being dropped there by helicopter. Truly, an empty victory. In attempts to be fair and not over-exert my parental authority, this response is used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. There are times I immediately know the answer is a definite “no,” but I can’t formulate and verbalize my explanation quickly or coherently enough to effectively explain why. So, rather than risking a nonsensical answer similar to “blablabla,” I do occasionally resort to some form of “Just because!”
…and largely unbeknownst to the kids are the rhetorical questions that I sometimes mutter, either under my breath, or in my head, while recognizing their place near the bottom of the list of “Effective Interaction With Your Children.”
WHAT were you thinking? and, Are you KIDDING me?
But every now and then, I do ask, because I sometimes just really feel the need to know!
originally published in the Waterloo Region Record