JUST THINKING: Things our parents tell us

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

When I was young, the one thing my parents could say that actually would straighten out my attitude immediately — at least for a little while — was that if I didn’t behave, I’d be sent to the School For Young Ladies in Belding.

Yikes. That didn’t sound like fun at all. Kind of scary, in fact. Most of the time, it put enough fear in me to make me cry. I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I figured out said school did not exist.

We parents say the darndest things to try and get our kids to do what we want. Sometimes just to have a little fun with them because they’re so gullible.

For example, when I was young and discovered how to cross my eyes, I’d go around ooggling people to try and gross them out. Well, my grandmother put the kabosh on that by telling me if I did it enough times or long enough, my eyes would stick that way.

My mom said when she was little, that same grandmother (her mom) would tell her and her sisters not to stick their heads out the window while she was driving because they might fall off.

I was talking with a friend about these lines our parents fed us with such sincerity when we were growing up and he said it wasn’t until several years ago that he learned he did not have Native American ancestry. You see, ever since he could remember, his mother always told him he was part “Indian.” And so he repeated that fact to anyone who asked about his heritage. But several years ago, in his early 40s, his mother admitted she used to say that just to joke with his dad. Ha ha ha.

A friend at work is the fourth oldest of nine kids in her family and chuckles when she talks about how they used to tell their younger siblings that they were adopted. Those kids, she said, believed it for a long time. But as they all got older, she says, they looked too much alike for that myth to continue with authority.

Then there are the everyone’s-heard-it kinds of statements like “If you go outside without a coat on, you’ll catch cold;” or “Don’t sit too close to the TV or you’ll go blind;” or “If you swallow your gum, it’ll stay in your belly forever;” or “If you swallow watermelon seeds, you’ll grow one in your stomach.”

One co-worker told me his grandma always warned, “Don’t whistle at night. The devil will hear you.” And he also grew up being told, “Don’t pick your nose or your brain will leak out.”

Did that last one make you frussell your brow and scrunch your mouth to ponder? Well, be warned, if you keep making that face, it’ll grow permanently like that.

juliestafford@staffordmediasolutions.com  (616) 548-8260

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