While I was at the store, I overheard a dad tell his sobbing daughter, "Be quiet or I'll give you something to cry about!"
I snickered to myself at the absurdity of such a statement, and I remembered making a smart-aleck comment in response to my dad after he said that to me as a child. "So, do you want me to stop crying? Or do you want me to cry more? I'm confused." (In case you're wondering, he gave me something to cry about.)
My parents didn't just spank me and my sister when we were bad. Nope, they'd tell us to go upstairs and wait. We knew what was coming and that waiting was the worst. One day, my sister and I came up with a great idea to save our aching butts. Books! It was fool proof! I grabbed my trusty copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and stuffed it down my pants. A spanking won't hurt now! I've got protection! I thought triumphantly. Apparently I wasn't a very bright kid because it never occurred to me that my mom would notice that my butt had taken on a rectangular shape, or a hard, cardboard-like quality. Yeah.
But that dad telling his daughter he'd give her something to cry about got me thinking. I don't know about you, but my parents said a lot of stupid things when I was a kid. Sometimes they'd ask me, "Do you want a spanking?"
"Umm, is this a trick question?"
Or (here's another good one!) "This is going to hurt me than it does you." Uh no. It most definitely does not hurt the parent more. I've been in both positions and it does not hurt the spanker as much as the spankee. Just sayin'.
I was a picky eater as a kid. I would never touch the crust of my bread. My mom would tell me, "Eat the crust! It'll put hair on your chest!" Yeah. You know, because that's what every five-year-old girl wants - a hairy chest. "Hair on my chest??? Really? Awesome! Can I eat yours too, Mom?"
Here's another one that picky eaters across America heard on a regular basis. "Finish that! Don't you know there are starving kids in Africa?" I'm not sure how finishing my Brussels sprouts was going to help hungry kids on the other side of the world, but it seemed to make sense to parents everywhere.
A good one my dad said was, "Don't make me turn this car around!" You know how many times he actually turned the car around? Never. It was an empty threat designed to make us quiet down and stop fighting. And it worked every time. For 90 seconds. Really though, in the history of mankind, has anyone ever actually turned the car around? Why would you do that? You'd still have to listen to the fighting on the way back home. And then, eventually, you'd have to go back out and complete your trip anyway.
My sister and I didn't fight much as kids. We didn't go around punching each other or anything like that. (We're girls after all.) But we did make faces at each other. That was the ultimate insult. "Mom, Deb's sticking her tongue out at me! Mom, Dawn's making a face at me!" And you know what our mom said? Say it with me, everyone. "Your face is going to freeze like that." And she'd say it all serious-like, as if she actually believed it herself. Have you ever seen a person with their face frozen with their eyelids pulled up, their fingers stuck in their nostrils, and their tongue hanging out? Yeah, I didn't think so.
And finally, there was the famous, "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?"
"Possibly. How long are you going to stay with this line of questioning? Kidding! Just kidding, Mom. I wouldn't jump off a bridge to get away from you. I mean, I wouldn't jump off a bridge just because my friends do. So, does that mean no, I can't go to the concert that everyone else is going to?"
Yeah, in fact, I did get in trouble a lot. Why do you ask?