Sunday, April 26, 2009

Parents say the darndest things

There was a girl who lived down the street from me as a kid who used to come over and play pretty frequently. And I’m not sure that she ever knew it, but that little girl used to make my mother laugh.
We’d be well into a version of pretend something-or-other and I had an old rotary phone that was designated for play. My friend would grab the phone, hold it with her chin and say things like “uh huh, OK, sure, OK, yep.” According to my mom, that’s just what my friend’s mom sounded like on the phone, and back then I didn’t know what was just so funny about it.
Now, being I parent, I know. Oh, do I know.
Children, besides being tiny treasures filled with wonder and ideas, are also little sponges, absorbing everything they meet, hear, feel, and see. More than that they are also little mirrors, and if you look closely enough they can show you exactly how you, the parent, act, sound, and generally exist.
We’re riding in the car the other day, my children and I, and my son at age 5 starts rambling on and on about something that doesn’t make much sense and defies all reality of time.
“What are you talking about?” I finally asked him.
“Oh, it’s a long story,” he said. And it hit me. That’s my line. My line, and he stole it! That’s what I’m always telling them when I don’t feel like explaining something, like the time they asked why birds lay eggs and mommies don’t or when they asked how airplanes work.
“Oh, it’s a long story.”
Unfortunately, this phenomenon of imitation also extends beyond the comfort zones of our own family, where I find myself being embarrassed in front of my peers as my children go on to share my wisdom and knowledge (or lack thereof) with their friends.
We have a general rule about getting hurt in this house. Bandages are not to be used unless there is blood, although I’ll be the first to admit that a Scooby Band-Aid slapped on anything will just about cure it. But they don’t grow on trees, so we go through a little flowchart when a boo-boo has occurred.
Step one: Is it bleeding? If so, dig out the Band-Aid of your choice. If not, deal with it.
Step two: If it still hurts, mommy will perform her magical Polish cure, which consists of me rubbing my elbow while I rattle off one of a handful of Polish phrases I know and that is apparently equivalent to “how ‘bout them apples?” Then, once my elbow is all charged and ready, I simply place it on the boo-boo and it magically disappears.
It’s all rather ridiculous, but it saves me a ton of money on bandages. What’s even more ridiculous when I hear my kids put this abnormal, albeit creative method into practice. I have overheard them, amongst their friends and their parents, start the medical procedure on their own.
“It’s not bleeding. All you need is the Polish cure. Let me just rub my elbow…”
Now I know how my mom’s friend would have felt so long ago. In fact, I know precisely how she feels.
I recently caught my baby, at age 16 months, talking on an old cell phone the kids use for play. She held it up to her ear and held onto a purse with her other hand, and went about her play like it was her job.
My mom happened to see it too. “Look at that! I can’t believe it. Where’d she learn a thing like that?”
“Oh,” I told her, “it’s a long story.”

Originally appeared in the Holmes County Shopper and Wooster/Orrville This Week

2 comments:

Loren Christie said...

Great story. I just wrote about the fuss my oldest made today over a little tiny scratch. My kids copy me and John too. It can be scary!

BECKY said...

Karrie, I loved this!! Oh so true! I have a great one for you....A few years ago when my husband and I were babysitting my grandson Scotty, who was approx. 4 or 5 years old at the time, he came up with a real doozie. We were riding in the car, he in his car seat in the back, being kind of quiet (obviously deep in thought)...Out of nowhere he said, "Gram Gram, I remember when you were skinny!" I knew then he didn't come up with those words on his own!!

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