Today I reached a milestone in my short life as a parent. I employed the mother of all parental phrases when my preschooler was pleading his case as to why he should be able to ride his scooter at full speed down a hill without his helmet. After exhausting all of the actual reasons – the safety concerns, the danger, the gradient of the hill, etc. his pleas left me with no option. Thus, I answered: “Because I said so.” I am officially my own mother.
While this was the first time I pulled out the big gun of parental answers, on a daily basis there are several other phrases that, prior to having kids, I never had any use for that I now use All.The.Time. How do I know this? Because I have started hearing my own words filtered through my three-year-old’s mouth. And let me tell you, it’s not always pretty. In the interest of self-correction, and so that I start paying more attention to what I say, I have put together a list of the go-to phrases that have entered into my daily speech with such disturbing frequency that they cannot go unnoticed. Without further ado, and in order of the frequency of use from least to most:
- I know it’s frustrating but…: 3-5 times per day. This is what I say during the moments when I am practicing the art of Zen Mommying (hence, the relative infrequency). Instead of yelling when my son has a temper tantrum I say, “I know it’s frustrating that you (can’t actually do a back flip like the red Power Ranger, can’t have an actual sword, are not very good at soccer, etc.) but we don’t act like that.” In fact, I did not even realize how often I was using this phrase until one particular evening, while in a less than Zen Mommy moment I was screaming at my toddler for doing something toddlers do, my older son said to me, “Mommy, I know it’s frustrating, but we don’t act like that.” Well played, three-year-old, well played.
- Come On! (or more likely C’MON!!!): 20 times per day. While I’m trying to get my son out the door, while I am imploring him to walk faster, while I am trying to get him to put down his action figures and come to dinner, while I am telling him he’s had enough time to “rest” on the potty, while I am coaxing him into a bath. In other words, I pretty much employ this one any time we switch from one activity to the next.
- What do you say?: 30 times a day. The mantra of parents everywhere trying to teach their kids some manners. Before I let my children have anything they have asked for, or whenever someone has given them something, there I am interjecting, “What do you say?” I will repeat it over and over until I get the “please” or “thank you” that I am so desperately angling for. My diligence in the pursuit of having polite children has gotten so intense that this past weekend when someone handed my husband a beer, I actually turned to him and said, “What do you say?” Yeahhhh.
- You’re driving me crazy!: 40 times a day. I love them but they seriously drive me nuts. Truth.
- Don’t hit/touch/bother your brother (Alternatively: Leave your brother alone!): 50 times a day. Again, truth.
- STOP picking your nose!: 80 times a day. I read an article that claimed that the average human being touches her face 16 times an hour. I must brag that my sons are well, well, well above the curve in this regard. I used to only have to say it 40 times a day, but now my toddler has also started picking his nose. Sigh. Note: this figure does not account for the amount of times that I say nothing but physically pull the finger out of my sons’ noses. As you can tell, I am one proud Mama.
- I love you: 100 times a day. Even with the slowness, the impoliteness, the bickering, the nose-picking, and the sum total loss of my sanity, I love these two little nuts with my entire being. I certainly said “I love you” before my children arrived (how do you think said children came to be???). However, never in my life have I expressed my love so often and so freely as I do with my kids. And until they decide that I am annoying and uncool, which is surely just around the corner, I won’t stop saying it! And maybe not even then.