As a mom, do you ever feel like you repeat the same phrases every day?
“Don’t touch that.”
Too late, great globs of grease squished through their little fingers as they play in black goo blobbing from the grease Zerk. You may also holler this at them as they reach for an expensive-looking vase at someone’s house, or maybe just as they reach for your clean jeans with their grease-smeared fingers.
“Don’t eat that!”
This phrase is used all the time. We rely pretty heavily on the “10-second rule” at our house. OK, honestly it’s more like the “25-second rule.” Even so, there are still limits. Dirty food is one thing, but frosting with pine needles or ants? Or just handfuls of dirt? I feel I am constantly saying things like, “Don’t lick the sand. Don’t eat the rocks.” This phrase includes, but isn’t limited to, leaves, sticks, bugs, small toys, coins and their sibling’s dessert.
“Pick up your toys.”
You may as well make a recording of this and play it over an intercom system every 30 minutes or so. It doesn’t matter if you are in the tractor, swather or their room. They will get out enough toys to cover the entire floor. Even with constant reminders, toys will be left out. The amount of toys is directly proportional to the chance that you will be walking barefoot — especially in the case of Legos.
This one covers a multitude of situations. Don’t hit your brother or the cat. Don’t throw balls, rocks, sticks or anything else toward the house — they’ll hit a window. Easy on the dirtbikes — you don’t want to hit the machinery coming off your jumps. Watch the rake behind the tractor; you don’t want to hit the fence.
“Don’t climb up there!”
If there is anything that can be climbed, I have faith that two little boys will find it. Smiling faces wave happily over the edge of peaked haystacks — or from the tops of orchard ladders, little feet barely touching the top rung as they struggle to reach the next branch in the tree. When they can’t think of their own things to climb, my husband will put them on bales and raise them as high as the hay squeeze will reach.
“No, no, no!”
You remember the recording of “pick up your toys” suggested earlier? I think this is another well-deserved time for a recording. I try to say “yes” as often as I can, but “no” still comes out more than any other word. No, you can’t eat the cat’s food. No, you can’t bring the mouse in the house. No cake for breakfast. No lambs in your bed. No Muck boots for church. No, you can’t use the toilet brush to scrub your toy cars. No, the cat doesn’t want to take a bath with you.
“Shhhh. Just listen...”
This comment is practically worthless, but that doesn’t mean it gets said any less. It comes at times when there are loud discussions over the rules of a game, or when instructions need to be read, but everyone already “knows” the information. It often follows the phrase “no, no, no.” Usually with tears and “but Mommy,” upon which I try to clarify with “Shhhh, just listen ...”
“You’re my favorite boys in the whole world.”
This one is usually met with “I know,” and probably will have an eye-roll too when they get older. It’s often said at bedtime as they close their mischievous eyes and I smooth their hair and kiss their forehead. It’s also said to kiss away owies and ease their tears. Sometimes it’s whispered to myself during moments of frustration to remind me that “this too shall pass.”
Recently, my 2-year-old decided he needed a bigger chore than just picking up his toys. He took it upon himself to start taking out the kitchen garbage. He pulls out the liner, does his best interpretation of tying the strings, replaces the liner, then drags the sack (that is often as big as he is) out to the dumpster. He takes great pleasure in doing this and often dumps the trash several times a day — whether it needs it or not.
Then one evening as I tossed an egg shell into the trash, he turned and gave me a stern mom-look. “Mommy! No!”
“What’s the matter?” I asked. What happened next surprised me on many levels.
“Don’t put icky garbage in there,” he pointed adamantly at the trash. “Parker try to keep garbage clean. Mommy can’t put icky garbage in. No, no, no. Take out!” I started to explain what the garbage can was for, but he interrupted.
“Shhhh, just listen. Parker try keep it clean. Don’t make mess, Mommy! Parker loves Mommy, but Mommy can’t make mess!”
What else to say? I “cleaned up” my eggshells as I repeated again to ears that apparently were listening, “You’re my favorite 2-year-old in the whole world!”
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.