I was walking through the empty house tonight, turning off approximately 1,842 lights and muttering to myself.
You might be able to guess what I was mumbling. You certainly can if you're a parent, and it wasn't even remotely about how much I love my kids or how glad I am that they occasionally inhabit the extremely well-lit bedrooms in my house.
You do a lot of muttering when you have kids, and a lot of extra talking in general.
My kids gleefully point out when I talk to myself, usually within earshot of someone I'm trying to impress, like a good-looking man or the Pope.
This is embarrassing, but really, when you're a mom, you have so many things to remember all the time that if you don't rehearse them in your head, you can't keep them straight.
"Yes, vice-principal, I take it very seriously that my son stuffed the lavatory wall hand dryers full of paper towels and soap, flipped them upside down and turned them on, but he was just practicing for his science project."
Then there's all the extra talking you have to do while you're lecturing your kids. They are pretending to pay attention while they're really mentally composing the text they plan to send as soon as you're done.
I always imagine my kids as characters in that famous Far Side cartoon where you see, in the first panel, the owner scolding the dog: "Come, Fido, come and see where you peed on the floor. Fido, we have to do something about this!" And in the second panel, you see what the dog actually hears, "Bla FIDO bla bla bla bla FIDO bla bla bla."
Occasionally, I am horrified to hear something come out of my mouth that seems to have been channeled directly from my childhood. Things like "Money doesn't grow on trees;" "Were you born in a barn?" "Hay is for horses," and "Are you trying to heat the entire outdoors?"
Really, as a writer, I would like to think that I can come up with my own annoying expressions, without having to fall back on cliches.
While I was mulling over this column, probably talking out loud to myself, it occurred to me that my kids might have some ideas for things I should say. So please read these out loud, in an exasperated adolescent voice.
Things kids wish their parents would say:
— The house is too dark at night. Turn on more lights.
— Drop the towels on the bathroom floor where they're easy for me to find and wash.
— Do you need more money today for snacks?
— A little more sugar isn't going to hurt you.
— Would you like me to teach you to drive before you're 16?
— Your friends must miss you. Better get on Facebook and catch up.
—That homework looks really dull. Let's blow it off and play video games.
— That R-rated movie doesn't look that bad. You can watch it.
— I'm thinking maybe you have too many chores. What do you think?
— No, I don't think that skirt is too short.
— All your friends are doing it, so I think you should do it, too.
— Let's stay home from church this morning and watch cartoons.
— Ketchup is a vegetable and so is lettuce, so that burger and fries make a nutritious meal.
— Reading is boring, so put down that book and come watch TV.
— It's time to raise your allowance.
— Blue hair is very becoming on you.
— I understand why you want all those piercings, I'll pay for the next one.
— I don't care if you have a beer or two.
— Every teenager bangs up the car a little.
Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at mfisherocregister.com. Read her blog at themomblog.freedomblogging.com/category/frumpy-middleaged-mom-marla-jo-fisher/.
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