Gary Brown: Parents say the silliest things

Gary Brown
Special to The Canton Repository
Gary Brown

It's ironic that the night I couldn't sleep recently, and I was tossing and turning, I kept hearing my dad shouting up the stairs about how my brothers and I "better settle down up there or I'm coming up and settling you down for you."

I was never even sure what that threat meant, but it always sounded like we'd better, as he added, "go to sleep ... or else."

But, I couldn't sleep. Memories of things my parents used to tell me kept streaming through my head. Their list of standard parental threats and ultimatums was endless.

"Wait until your father gets home!"

"Go ask your mother."

And so much of the parental rhetoric dealt with bedtime. If you were not immediately obedient you could get multiple shouts from the bottom of the stairs for the same offense.

"Don't make me come up there!"

"I'm counting to three!"

"How many times do I have to tell you?"

"I'm not going to tell you again!"

In the dimness of the night and amid the fuzziness of my sleeplessness, I kept looking toward the bedroom door. I could swear I heard the yelling from below. And the silliest thing about it is I sleep on the first floor.

Road trip threats

"If you don't settle down back there, I'm pulling this car over."

Obviously, my dad also was a parental orator from behind the wheel of the family station wagon, and his audience was composed of restless kids in the back seat.

"Don't make me turn this car around."

And if one brother's shenanigans resulted in a siblings tears − and there was no real damage other than hurt pride − the offender was told to "cut it out" and the victim was encouraged to "stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."

Apparently, we weren't allowed to be either happy or sad. If a back-seat troublemaker was chastized and he didn't display a proper amount of regret in my father's rear-view mirror, his remorse might be called into question.

"Wipe that smile off your face or I'm going to wipe it off for you."

Our stops at rest areas depended upon three things: the urgency of the need, the proximity to a rest area and the nearness of our destination. Children were expected to adjust to our location.

"How bad do you have to go? We're almost there. Hold it."

Random words of wisdom

There were a multitude of other statements, questions and phrases in my parents' personal "Mom and Dad Manual."

"Would you jump off a bridge just because everybody else did."

That always seemed to be the litmus test for my parents if we argued that "everyone else" was doing something we wanted to do. I sort of thought it was an illogical upper limit thing. I don't remember any of my friends ever wanting to jump off a bridge.

"Clean up your plate because children in China are starving."

Sometimes the children in Africa were starving instead. All I ever knew for sure was a lot of children apparently needed something to eat and, somehow, it was my job to get it to them by gobbling up their portion. I'm still not sure how that works.

"Shut the door! Were you brought up in a barn?"

Personally, no. But, my friends up the road actually lived in a home that their father and mother had remodeled from a big barn. I always wondered if they ever asked their children the same question my parents shouted every time their children exited incorrectly. Did they also employ the follow-up observation?

"And stop slamming the door! It's like raising a bunch of animals ..."

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On Twitter: @gbrownREP