‘Get in the back seat if you want to wiggle your behind’

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‘My priceless Mom. And her priceless Momisms’

When I was a kid, I had a hard time picturing my mom in any role other than ‘Mom’. She would tell us about The Time When I Was In School. And we knew that, sometime in the foggy past, she Had Been A Nurse.

That’s why I  was (and still am) absolutely fascinated by the picture at the top of this post.

There’s Mom, whispering to Dad at some gathering of gorgeous young people who were, no doubt, also Moms and Dads. (I’m pretty sure that the leggy lady on the left ‘belonged’ to our pal Teresa.) But they look, well, rather off-duty here.

Who were Mom and Dad looking at? What was Mom saying? (Whatever it was, it must have been funny; he has a rather amused look on his face, doesn’t he?)

Anyway, speaking of funny, my Mom was — and is — rather droll, to say the least. And, in honor of Mother’s Day (coming up this weekend, people; get your phones warmed up), I thought I’d try to recount some of her funnier sayings. Her ‘Momisms’, if you will.

Of course, she would trot out phrases from the comes-with-the-Mom-Territory arsenal when called for. Lines like the argument-killer ‘because I said so, that’s why’ and the closely-related ‘because I’m your mother, and that’s that‘. Even that chestnut ‘when you grow up, I hope you have a daughter/son just as naughty as you, and then you’ll be sorry’ was occasionally deployed.

When the Little Kids were actually little she’d even sometimes resort in desperation to the classic ‘stop that crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about’. But not very often. I’m sure she realized that one is pretty darned ridiculous. (As well as ineffective.)

I should pause here to point out that there were five of us — the two Big Kids, the two Little Kids, and Roger (the Kid in the Middle) — a number that in those days wasn’t really all that unusual. Nor was the fact that we were a pretty rambunctious bunch. My Mom used to say (here comes a Momism) that ‘some people want the nations of the world to get along like brothers and sisters; hah! If they did, they’d be fighting all the time.’

The Five of Us: Big Kids in back, Little Kids in front (left and right). And Middle Kid in the middle

The Five of Us: Big Kids in back, Little Kids in front (left and right). And Middle Kid in the middle

Don’t get me wrong; we weren’t particularly naughty kids. Sure, sometimes things could spiral somewhat out of control. Like if one of us had a new Prized Possession and the rest wanted to mess with it. Or if somebody ate somebody else’s chocolate Easter Bunny ears. Or if my brothers started imitating The Three Stooges. (My Mom hated The Three Stooges.)

All Mom had to do was threaten to ‘get the hairbrush’  (not, in this instance, to brush our hair) or — if, say, we Said A Bad Word or ‘Talked Back’ — ‘wash your mouth out with soap‘. The hairbrush and soap threats were rather like the threat of nuclear weapons. I don’t recall her ever actually using them; just the fact that they existed and could be deployed served as a pretty effective deterrent.

Let me round out this collection with one of her, um, more creative Momisms. (It’s such a dandy that it appears in a previous Mom Story, ‘My Mom, the “Party Girl”‘.)

Back in the Old Days there were no seat belts. No baby seats, either. Parents just sort of squooshed their numerous progeny into the car and closed the door. Babies would get wedged into a corner or perched on the lap of a bigger kid.

This close proximity caused bickering, of course. ‘Mom! Her leg is touching my leg!’ ‘Mom! He’s looking out my window!‘ and my personal favorite (and no, I am not making this up) ‘Mom! He’s breathing my air!‘ made driving anywhere a noisy proposition. All this ‘Mom!’-ing (pronounced more like ‘Maaaaa-aaaahhhmmmm!) made our Mom say on more than one occasion that she wanted to change her name (that is, from ‘Mom’).

Anyway, one time when my Middle Brother had scored the coveted Front Seat, he got so excited — and so twitchy and annoying — that Mom actually told him: ‘Roger, get in the back seat if you want to wiggle your behind’.

Most excellent Momism, Mom. I wish you the most excellent Mother’s Day. Since I’m actually going to be seeing you in person this year, I can hardly wait to ask you ‘Why isn’t there a Children’s Day?’ To which you will surely reply, just like when we were small, ‘Every day is Children’s Day.’

Indeed.

New York City. May 2016

27 thoughts on “‘Get in the back seat if you want to wiggle your behind’

  1. Linda Hardie

    Love your family stories! Although they are yours, they sound so much like mine…like the memories. Keep writing!

    • But we all do it, don’t we? Amazing how when we’re kids we swear we won’t ‘do’ those Parental Phrases. But we just can’t help ourselves, can we? thanks, Jeremy!

  2. josypheen

    Love this!
    Your mum sounds like a hoot!

    Shocking that your siblings ate somebody else’s chocolate Easter Bunny ears. 😉 My sister once ate my Easter bunny and blamed it on the cat. I was so mad at my cat! I honestly thought he had climbed to the top of my wardrobe to reach it. She only admitted eating it about 20 years later(!) She had hidden the wrapping under my sleepy catty to frame him!!!

    • Oh, those crazy siblings! Mine were divided into Bunny Savers and Bunny Eaters. The Eaters had a sixth sense about where the Savers had hidden their Bunnies. Which meant we Savers lost out — and turned into Weepers! Thanks for your Bunny Tale (poor catty!) xoxo

      • josypheen

        YES!! I was totally a Saver and my sister was an Eater. She always knew where I hid my stash!
        It sounds like you and I have similar childhood issues. 😉

  3. Found you through the Weekend Blog Share and have greatly enjoyed reading some of your work. This one made me think of all the great Momisms my own kids must be collecting, like today’s “No taking head shots!” Yep, that’s a keeper…

    • “No taking head shots” (!) That is indeed a keeper. So funny. And I’m so glad you found me. Weekend Blog Share is the best, isn’t it? Enjoy the rest of yours (your weekend, that is). Glad to meet you!

  4. Car safety, in those long gone days when I was a kid, consisted of sitting down. If we wanted to stand, we had to hold onto a rope that ran across the back of the front seat. In an accident, we’d have been smoosh.

    • Ah, so glad we survived, seats belts or not. Otherwise we couldn’t read each other’s stories (!) Thank you for reading — and for commenting. You set a very high bar with your blog.

  5. Our parents lives were so different (yet the same) as ours. The whole no seat belts and having 5 kids was no biggie. Nowadays no seatbelt isn’t an option and people think 3 kids is a lot (my brother in law has 4). Those momisms are pricesless! As are the old photos. Love the oldies 🙂

    • Ah, yes. Life was so different in so many ways. Yet so much the same — in so many good ways! Thanks for taking time away from yours to read and comment. Enjoy your three wonderful kids! xoxo

  6. You captured the momisms perfectly, all of them, Alice. When my parents packed all six of us in the car, she also packed “the belt” although she had great difficulty reaching around with it and getting a good swing. Have a great visit with your Mom. She sounds wonderful.

    • Ah, Judy! My Mom used to drive with just her left hand so that she could swing indiscriminately in the general direction of the back seat with her right. Memories! So glad you could relate and that you chimed in. I’ll tell Mom ‘hi’ from you. xoxo

    • Thanks, Jim! I’ll pass your greetings along when I see her this weekend. (My brother Roger will be there too.) My friend Bruce suggested we all take a car ride together (hah!)

  7. I don’t know if Moms with little kids today use the same Momisms that Moms our Moms’ age used when they had little kids, but they should. There are some that are perfectly suitable for 21st century carryover. I don’t remember hearing a “sit still” in the car command delivered the same as your mother gave to your brother. That’s a new one for me. It’s so funny that you remember it.

    I think you should all take a car ride together this weekend.

    • Thanks, Bruce! I agree wholeheartedly that many Midcentury Momisms are still useful today. In fact, although I had sworn not to, I found myself deploying my favorite (‘because I’m the mommy and you’re not’) time and time again when dealing with The Child. As for Mom’s unique ‘sit still’ command, it was so funny it entered our Family Lexicon. My sibs and I can still crack each other up just by saying it. And yes — your car ride suggestion will be acted upon; Roger will be out visiting our Mom for Mother’s Day too (!)

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