Recently I was thinking about things my parents used to say when I was a kid to make me feel better, or get me to do something, or pump me up to attempt something. There were a lot of things that turned out to be true, but there were a lot of things that turned out to be inaccurate or flat out wrong. Every family had their own sayings, but I’m guessing that many of us heard the same ones.
Here are a few sayings that were supposed to teach us life lessons:
- Good things come to those who wait. Mom told us this to cheer us up when we didn’t get something we wanted. We heard this one a lot in my house. Somehow this was supposed to make me feel better about not getting something, when in reality I would have felt much better getting what I wanted right then. Now that I think about it, nothing comes to those who wait.
- Work hard and you’ll get ahead. Mom and Dad told us this so we’d do our homework and do well in school so we could go on to college. I think it was supposed to motivate us to give our all to tasks and persevere. Sadly, in today’s world you work hard and you get a pat on the back. That is, if your company is being downsized, in which case you get shown the door.
- The cream always rises to the top. This goes along with the previous phrase. It was supposed to teach us that if you do your very best, you’ll magically rise to the top. I’ll tell you what rises to the top – dead bodies…unless they have a pair of cement shoes.
- Cheaters never prosper. Ha! Professional athletes and politicians have turned this one on its head. We heard this one a lot, too, because Mom and Dad wanted us to always play fair and follow the rules. As with most kids, we didn’t always live by this rule.
Here are a few sayings that Mom and Dad employed to get us to eat stuff we didn’t like:
- Carrots are good for your eyes. Which was followed by “Have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses?” I have to admit, I never did see a rabbit with glasses. However, I did see a lot of people who ate carrots and still had glasses, Mom and Dad included. I didn’t eat carrots much and I never needed glasses. That is, until I hit my mid-40’s and now I can’t read anything without my goggles.
- Eat all your vegetables and you’ll grow up big and strong. I am Exhibit A that this was false. We had vegetables almost every night with dinner, along with salad, and we had to eat all that we were given (or took) and I never did make it to six feet. I know, I know, some will say I did grow up big and strong – big headed with strong B.O.
- Fish is great brain food. I’ve never been a big fish fan and yet I was still pretty smart growing up. I still remember Moe telling Larry, in response to his declaration that fish was great brain food, that he should fish for a whale! I heard that one from my brothers a few times, too.
Lastly, here are a few sayings that Mom and Dad used to get us to stop doing things they didn’t like:
- Your face will get stuck like that. Mom seemed to always catch us making goofy faces at each other and said this to get us to stop. Guess what? It didn’t work. We still did it and our faces are perfectly normal, some may even say handsome. Though I must admit, in a few moments of insecurity I did check my face in the mirror just to make sure I wasn’t cross-eyed with my tongue hanging out of my mouth.
- If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll ruin your eyes. Since the advent of TV, kids have sat as close to it as they could. In my house, we sat close to the TV so we could hear it because someone was always goofing around and making noise – many times it was me. However, I don’t think there was ever a scientific study that proved that if you sit too close to the TV, your eyes are adversely affected.
- If you listen to music too loud, you’ll go deaf. There was only one reason for this, and it was because our parents, mine included, hated the music we listened to. My brothers and sisters and I listened to rock, from the Beatles to Zeppelin, until a couple of family members lost their minds and went disco on me. There was only one way to play it and that was loud! Meanwhile, Mom was playing her Englebert Humperdinck and Tom Jones albums pretty loud herself.
There you have it, things our parents told us that weren’t true. Maybe in twenty years my kids will have a list of phrases that my wife and I told them that weren’t true. That is, if they can come up with any.