“Stop Licking the Wall” and Other Mama Phrases


“Stop licking the wall!”

I recently overheard an exasperated mama say this to her pre-schooler.

We were touring a salt mine in Krakow, Poland. Our guide had horrified every parent in the group when she encouraged her visitors to feel, or even taste, the salt walls. What child could possibly resist such an invitation? Of course the guide had also informed us that over two million tourists visit this mine each year.

My germophobic mama brain revolted as I watched little ones drag their tongues across walls, while parents looked on in disgust. After about an hour, one mom called it quits and demanded her child “Stop licking the wall!”

I laughed under my breath at the absurd statement and thought, “Only here would you say something like – ”

And then I stopped. I saw my toddler in my mind’s eye and heard my own voice, “Quit licking the floor!” I’ve said this numerous times. In my kitchen. In a coffee shop. And there was no tour guide inviting him to taste the floor. Only my son with a repulsive curiosity.

I realized in that moment: “stop licking” is just one of the mama phrases we all share.

Some phrases, like this one, sound ridiculous, and only a parent can appreciate them. Others we say because at some point, we actually did become our mom: “I know what you did. Mama’s not stupid.” And still other phrases would prove our insanity plea in a court of law: “Go back and look again. I’m telling you; Winnie the Pooh is in the closet.”

I’m sure you could add to this list, but here are thirteen phrases every mama will recognize.

Because I’m the mama, that’s why.

Somewhere along the road of temper tantrums and arguments, you stopped believing in democracy and converted to dictatorship. In this house, there’s no such thing as a rule of the people, by the people, for the people.

How many times do I have to tell you…?

Friend, let me save you some trouble and a piece of your sanity. The answer is always, always one more time. Maybe you’re still discovering this, but your voice really does come out sounding like the Charlie Brown teacher – “wa waa wa wa waa.”

I’m doing this because I love you.

You say this with sincerity while doling out a grounding or time-out. In the middle of your sentence, blinding intuition hits you: your mom really didn’t hate you all those years, wasn’t out to make your life miserable.

Don’t eat the soap. Or the dirt. Or the toilet paper.

Do you ever wonder if something’s hot-wired wrong in your child’s brain? What else would possess a human being to put these things in their mouth?

I just want three minutes to myself.

You’d probably also like an all-expenses paid vacation in the Caribbean. Just saying – dream big, Mama.

It doesn’t take that long toinsert any action verb here.

A four year old cannot do anything in under 17 minutes. No amount of prodding will change that, so you might as well settle in for the duration.

Leave your sister alone.

Stop hitting her. Don’t bite her! Quit pinching!! Do not step on your sister’s head!!!

Sometimes the dialogue in your house sounds like the movies you’d never take your kids to see.

Get out of the toilet.

It calls to them in songs you cannot hear. You only hope your older child remembered to flush before you find the toddler splashing with glee.

But this is what you asked for.

Do you recognize the exasperation, the pleading tone of voice? Thirty seconds ago he was begging for that drink or food. Now he’s screaming like you’re trying to shove brussel sprouts down his throat.

Never mind what you found in his mouth five minutes ago when you fished him out of the toilet bowl.

Fine, whatever you say.

You might have superior reasoning power and years of experience. But a four-year-old is never wrong. Just admit it.

No. No. No. No!

Insanity is doing (or perhaps saying) the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Do you really believe the 23rd time will convince your child to comply?

I put your socks in the fridge.

You might have your own version of this one. Your toothbrush is in the dishwasher. Your milk is in the oven. The important take-away is that Mama is sleep-deprived and multi-tasking on an inhumane level.

You’re cute.

It does not matter what atrocity they’ve committed, what gooey substance they’re covered in, or how badly they smell. Deep down – sometimes very deep down – you still believe they’re adorable.

Some might submit this as evidence for an insanity plea. Others would simply call it motherhood.

I’ll be honest; it’s been awhile since I felt confident discerning between the two.

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