The Top 20 Sayings
1. Because I said so
Oh, yes. My mom was a big fan of this one. She even used it for things that she could’ve explained, she just didn’t really feel like it. “Mom, why do cows moo?” “Because I said so.” Thanks, Mom. Really cleared that up for me. Usually she just said, “Cuz,” though. I’m definitely guilty of using this with any kid I’ve ever interacted with. Kids ask too many questions. This is why “Because I said so” is numero uno on this list.
2. Wait and see
I’m not sure that my mom really said this as an expression, per se. It was more of a, “Hold your horses!” when I was getting too impatient.
3. If someone asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?
Perhaps it was because of our close proximity to a large river, but my mom was more likely to phrase this one as, “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you follow?” It was almost always about one person.
Me: Mom, Amanda gets to go see Titanic, why can’t I?!
Mom: If Amanda jumped off a bridge, would you follow?
Me: Maybe! If it makes me look cool…
4. You’ll have someone’s eye out with that
Yeah, my mom never said this because we’re not Victorian. “You’ll HAVE someone’s eye out with that?” Have?! That is way too proper for a hassled mom. I don’t think anyone says this. Well, not exactly like this. Of course, there is the iconic, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” from A Christmas Story. My mom was more likely to threaten a kidnapping. “Some stranger’s gonna snatch you up if you’re not careful!”
5. What did your last slave die of?
Do what?! I never, ever heard this. I heard, “Who died and made you Queen/President/boss?” Is that the same thing?
6. Close the door you don’t live in a barn
Mom said similar things. One of her favorites was, “Shut the door, Richard!” I still don’t get that one. If I had a nickel for every time I asked, “Who’s Richard?” I would have my college loans paid off. I wonder if it has anything to do with how my dad likes to call bad drivers, “Richard head.” Was my mom calling me names?! Oh my god…
Both of my parents were fond of, “I’m not paying to heat the outside/garage!”
7. I’ve told you a thousand times!
“How many times do I have to tell you?”
8. There’s no such word as can’t
Yeah, I heard this one, I think, from Mom and my teachers. Usually it was the modified version, “In every ‘can’t,’ there’s a ‘can.'”
9. Say pardon not what
Ha! Like my mom really cared about that. I don’t remember her really caring, anyway. We were always fond of the phrase, “Ex-squeeze me?” a la Wayne’s World.
10. It’ll end in tears
Don’t think I heard that one as a kiddo. Probably some variations, though, or it’s at least been implied a few times that whatever I was doing wasn’t going to end well.
11. Who’s she, the cat’s mother?
I’m assuming that this is similar to the, “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge” remark, where a mom tries to let you know someone’s not as cool as you seem to think they are. I’ve never heard it used, though. It’d be more like, “Well, who cares what she thinks?!” Or, “Who gives a rat’s butt what she thinks?” As for cat related sayings, I often got, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I was always worried that we had once had a cat that I didn’t know about, and it had been killed. And the murderer? Curiosity.
12. I want never gets
I had to read this a few times before I realized what it even says. At first I was thinking, “What’s a ‘never gets?'” I suppose it means that saying “I want” will never “get” you anything. Of course. Although it never got said to me, I enjoy the phrase, “If wishes and buts were clusters of nuts, we’d all have a bowl of granola” a bit more.
13. If you’re too full to finish your dinner, you’re too full for desert
Oh, boy, did I ever hear stuff like this. Also in my mom’s “clean your plate” repertoire:
“There are starving kids in China who’d love to eat that!” (My response to this – in my mind only – was always, Well, why don’t you send it to them?)
Used only during dinners where broccoli was featured: “Finish your trees! Eat all your little trees!”
14. That’s for me to know and you to find out
This is a classic, as far as I’m concerned. This phrase is useful for anyone.
15. Back in my day…
More like, “When I was a kid…” or “My mom/dad would never let me…”
16. Don’t sit too close to the TV you’ll get square eyes
Get square eyes? What does that even mean? How about, “Don’t sit too close to the TV or you’ll go blind.” That’s better.
17. I’ll give you something to cry about
Yes. Got this one said to me a lot. Usually accompanied by my mom holding up her left fist, with all her pointy rings on it. She’d usually have the middle knuckle raised a bit; she called it the “Frogger.” Not that she ever hit me with it. But for some reason I always believed she would. I think that’s the secret to being a good disciplinarian parent. Don’t follow through on your threats, but make the kid believe that you wouldn’t hesitate to follow through.
18. Carrots will make you see in the dark
Never heard that one. My grandpa used to be fond of telling my cousins and I (and my mom and aunts before us) to, “Eat your peas. You’ll grow hair on your chest.” Then I’d always squinch my face up and say, “I don’t want hair on my chest, Papaw!” And he’d probably say he was just kidding, but I’d check down my shirt later that night anyway, just in case.
19. Ask your father / mother
Who doesn’t hear that? Parents love to pass the buck.
20. Do as I say, not as I do
I’m sure my mom’s said something like this, but she probably said it better.
Other favorites of my own mother:
Well, how do ya like them apples?
Again, if I had a nickel for every time I asked her, “What apples?!”…
It’s all Greek to me.
This one is infamous in our family because it made me cry once. I thought my mom called me a geek, but really she just said, “It’s all Greek to me.”
God bless America!
This was one of my mom’s favorite mild expletives. See also: “Oh, for the love of Pete!”
You’re skatin’ on thin ice, missie!
This was a popular one, regardless of the fact that I didn’t go ice skating for the first time until I was probably 12.
Two phrases I learned from my mom that I have been made fun of for using:
Angels on your pillow.
Mom always said this to me and my sister before we went to sleep. Freshman year of college, I said it over the phone to my mom and caught some grief for it from friends who overheard. Mom said that her mom said it to her, too, so apparently it’s a family thing.
I referred to people as “wackadoos” once in a writing class and everyone laughed at me. Thanks, Mom.
Just kidding… please don’t “frog” me.