Saturday, January 26, 2013

You’ll Eat It and You’ll Like It!

Little One has a few bites of food left on her plate. Literally just teaspoons. I see the look in her eyes. She’s full.

“Baby Girl, don’t eat it,” I say.

“But, I feel bad.”

“What? For the starving people in Africa? I gave you too much. Never force yourself to clean your plate. I’ve always told you that.”

Right there, I did it. I was like my parents in one of those parent quotes talking about the kids in Africa. Remember your parents saying stuff to you about how there were starving kids in Africa? Or Ethiopia? And how you needed to clean your plate because they didn’t have food? And, if you said anything about mailing your food to them, you’d get a slap in the head? And, if you didn’t like the food, tough beans.

“You’ll eat it and you’ll like it!”

This is that table where I'd spend many a long evening.
This was obviously a better eating moment.

Where do parents come up with this stuff? And, how big did they think our bellies were? No wonder so many of us have weight issues. And, why did they assume liver was so delicious? If you like it so much, you eat it. More for you. (I would never say that out loud or I’d get my mouth washed out with soap, but I’d sure think it).

I remember long evenings sitting alone at the kitchen table trying to choke down some eraser-like substance called liver.

I already got the, “You’ll just sit here all night until it’s gone!”

You can only put so much masticated liver in your napkin before they catch on. And forget about going to the bathroom more than once with a mouthful to hopefully spit into the toilet and flush away forever.

And, you’d sit there crying with what seemed like a piece of fiberboard in your mouth and get the, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” You already did. It’s in my mouth, remember?

So, did our parents get manuals at the hospital with all these saying when we were born? Even Five Eleven and her cousin, PJ, heard similar things and they were raised 2400 miles away. And, with all these sayings, remember how they were always yelled or screamed at us?

“Were you born in a barn?”

“You’re letting all the flies in!” (Like, really? ALL the flies?)

“I’m not heating the outside!”

“I’m not air-conditioning the outside!” (Even though we didn’t have air-conditioning).

“Either you’re in or you’re out!”

“Slam that door one more time, Missy!”

“Were you raised by heathens?” (If you’re a heathen, then yes.)

You’d want to come in for a drink from having been sent outside to play all day when it was like 100 degrees out. And, you’ve already been screamed at for going in and out a “hundred times.”

“Just drink out of the hose!”

Yea. That was safe advice. Hot hose water from the toxic hose.

Then, there were the times when you were bored. Remember in those days we only had a handful of toys in our rooms?

“Because we aren’t made out of money!”

Yea, my face stuck like that. I'm the one with the long hair on the left.

 And, if you mentioned you were bored, you’d get the, “Oh, I’ll give you something to do!” I’m not sure what that was, but the way it was said, it never sounded good.

“Heaven forbid” it should rain and we were stuck inside in our rooms.

“Don’t make me come up there and smack you!”

“Just wait until your father gets home!”

“It’s all fun and games until someone gets their eye put out!”

“Don’t come crying to me!”

“I’ll slap the taste right out of your mouth!”

“Don’t make me get the wooden spoon (or spatula, belt…) out!”

“If it hurts, it’s working.”

You’d get that last one if you got cut or scraped and your mom was pouring alcohol on your wound because that’s what she did.

And, remember driving somewhere in the car? No one had air-conditioning. It was always 900 degrees and you’d be sandwiched between your little brother and sister and one or both of them were poking you.

“He’s poking me!” you’d yell. Bad idea.

“Do you want me to stop this car?”

“Do you want me to come back there?”

“Shut your mouth or I’ll shut it for you!”

“He’s making faces at me,” you’d say and be pouty and half-ready to cry.

“Stop it. Your face will freeze like that!” you’d get back.

Then the disembodied hand would come from the front seat and start swinging wildly trying to hit anyone or anything that was within reach. All hell would break loose and the car would be swerving and we’d be screaming and crying (or laughing which was never a good idea in that situation).

Gosh, those were the days, huh?

I guess I made different decisions about parenting when my kids were born. I’m lucky that they are darned good girls though, too. Imagine, if I had jumped off that bridge with my friends, I wouldn’t be here to do that.

What did your parents say to you? Do you say the same things to your kids? Or, do you just think them?


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