When you open your mouth and your mother comes out

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The longer I'm a parent, the more often I open my mouth and my mother comes out.

Sometimes I sound just like my Mum, like when I say:

You finish it

With three siblings, it was inevitable that I'd often blame the starting of things on one of the others.

"She started it," I'd declare, in a tone that let everyone know how unfair it was to be told off.

Mum's response was always the same: "Well, you finish it!"

I always hated that response and yet, here I am dishing out the same line to my own children. How quickly we forget what it was like.

I'll give you something to do

There are many possible responses to the old complaint of, "I'm bored" (although in this usage, the word 'bored' becomes a twelve syllable word). Some of my friends' parents would tell their children that "Only boring people are bored" or to "Go outside" – and the latter was certainly used in my childhood home, too (and, I suspect, the door was locked behind us after we finally went outside).


But my Mum's favourite response was to give us a list of jobs to do. We very quickly learnt to keep our boredom to ourselves, and find something to do before Mum spotted us being idle.

I've taken this response on with my own children, and even my four-year-old is directed towards the washing pile if she mutters the "B" word.

When I was your age

Oh this one was bad, because no child cares how much worse their parents' childhood experiences were. I do drag this out, however, particularly when telling my children how different life was before the internet.

Of course, all they think is that we're super old.

Don't you use that tone with me, young lady

Oh, how we all hated being called "young lady" or "young man". And as much as I try not to say those same words with my children, well, sometimes it just slips out.

I'll give you something to whinge about

Nothing annoys a parent more than a whingeing child; this has been true of many past generations, and is sure to continue well into the future.

Mums all over the world are sure that their own offspring have very little to complain about, but declare themselves ready to provide a reason to whinge.

Because I said so!

There are only so many times a parent can patiently answer the question, "Why?" Somewhere around the tenth time it's asked in a one-minute timeframe is about the time that many of us declare that the answer is simply, because we said so.

And then there are the phrases I'm looking forward to saying as my kids grow older. I have no doubt that these classics are going to come out eventually:

  • If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
  • As long as you're under my roof, you'll do as I say!
  • If you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to play
  • This isn't a hotel.
  • Don't make me come in there

Yep, there are many good times still to come.