Among my parenting “I’ll never dos” (pronounced before actually becoming a parent), was this list of inanities I swore I’d never say. I call these the “BISSOs” after that pinnacle of parenting parlance: Because. I. Said. So. Unfortunately, like most of my pre-parenting parenting pronouncements, I have violated this one early and often.
Deep down I know these throwaway statements won’t stop my children from doing or not doing whatever it is that’s driving me mad, but I say them anyway, because in that desperate moment when I feel ready to gouge out my eyes (or theirs), they calm me—they are equivalent to a count-to-10 timeout.
Here they are, my verbal parenting gaffes, plus a few strategies I’ve cooked up—or read somewhere amongst my suffocating stack of parenting manuals—to (sometimes) avoid them.
Get up, you’re fine.
My kids get bumped and bruised a lot. They trip over their own feet; they inexplicably run into furniture; they lean back on their chairs and fall over despite my insistence to keep “four on the floor!” When they’re truly hurt, I give lots of hugs, kisses, and first aid to make it better. Other times, I’m just so darn tired of wasting another Dora the Explorer Band-Aid on a bloodless “owie” that I find myself trying to convince my child the whole falling-less-than-a foot-off-the-swing-onto-the-soft-mulch-below never happened. Recently, I’ve shown the older one how to bandage her own boo-boos, and declared that once and for all, I will stop buying cartoon Band-Aids! They are crack to my kid’s overreaction habit.
We’ll put it on your wish list.
This one actually was effective until my older daughter wised up enough to ask for the document’s production. She now requires that I capture an image of the wished for item on my smart phone and download it to her “wish list” file promptly upon returning home. The younger one just never gets within two miles of a toy store. Ever.
Just eat it!
It’s only parsley. It doesn’t taste like anything! Well, just don’t look at the green specs in there. Then, pretend they’re another color. Then just close your eyes! At what point do you, like me, finally give up and make the substitute peanut butter/SunButter sandwich? I like this advice: Encourage at least a “trying” bite and teach your little one to spread her own condiment on a piece of bread if she’s going to be picky. The insult of having to make her own dinner might be all the motivation she needs for a mouthful of peas and carrots. (Or, she just might cry huge elephant tears, in which case, you’re screwed. See below.)
I’ve used it, but this one truly is inane. Telling a crying person—especially a child with the emotional maturity of a Neanderthal—to stop crying is like ordering her to stop sneezing.
Go to sleep!
This one’s pointless too. Better option: “Stay in your room and don’t come out until the little hand is on the seven.”
Because I said so.
I promised myself I’d never say this, but honestly, there aren’t enough reasons in the world to satisfy a curious or impertinent child. I try to use it sparingly, and if I find myself about to purposely walk into oncoming traffic to avoid the even worse “death by exasperating” query, then I bust out the BISSO and feel no guilt:
Me: “Wait! Don’t cross the street without holding my hand.”
Me: “Because a car might not see you in time and hit you.”
Her: “But why?
Me: “Why will the car hit you?
Her: “No, why will the car not hit me if we’re holding hands?”
Me: “Because I could stop the car from hitting you.”
Her: “You could stop the car?”
Me: “Yes. No. I mean, I could stop you from getting hit.”
Her: “Why won’t you get hit?”
Me: “Just hold my hand.”
Me: “Because I said so!”
Katherine is a local freelance writer and mother of two daughters. Thankfully, only one of them currently is old enough to admonish her (intelligibly) when she says stupid things.