Words of... Wisdom?

This past Friday was my mom’s birthday.


And I was thinking about all the wonderful pieces of advice she has given me over the course of my life. And then I got to thinking about all the things she and my father said to my sister and I that never made any sense to us. Things that were said often, and with enough emphasis that we began to believe them, without really understanding them.

I mean, granted I get confused easily but it wasn’t until later in my life (just recently) that I realized those things STILL don’t make any sense to me. So either I’m an idiot (quite possible) or these things really don’t make sense.

Lets examine shall we?

1. You’re making dust.

This was usually said to me when I was doing one of my chores like making my bed or folding my laundry. I would pull a sheet or shirt out of a pile and shake it out so to get some of the wrinkles. And my mom would say,

Stop shaking that, you’re making dust.


I don’t even know how to make dust. It sounds like magic to me. I am just here shaking this sheet. I might be moving dust, sure. I’ll give you that. I am relocating dust, absolutely. But making dust? I don’t think I have that kind of power. I can barely make a ham sandwich. So to create tiny little particles of floatingness out of the ether, I mean that seems out of my power.

Later on in my life studies I found out that dust is mostly made up of dead skin skills. I really wish that I had been armed with that science when I was a kid, so when my mother said to me “You’re making dust,” I could have responded, “You are too!”

2. You’re sitting there with your finger up your nose…

This statement was never used when I was actually picking my nose. It was usually used when I was being lazy or had forgotten to do something. The statement would go something like,

You’re sitting there, with your finger up your nose, while the trash piles up.

As though having my finger up my nose was the peak of happiness for me.

I am going to admit something here. I have picked my nose before. Shocking yes I know. I probably did it more than I should have as a child. (Though I’m not sure what the recommended… amount… of nose picking is for a child) Let’s go ahead and say I surpassed it. Let’s even say I was some sort of prolific nose picker.

But I would venture to say that any nose picking happened out of necessity. It was never a pleasure seeking activity like running through the sprinkler or playing Nintendo. If I was picking my nose I wasn’t just having a whimsical spelunk up into my nasal cavity, I was on a mission. This was a business transaction, not a leisure activity.

Sitting perfectly motionless with a digit stuck in my nostril? Yea, this sure feels like a party to me.

3. You’ve got a stick up your butt.

Now this doesn’t sound like something to joke about. This sounds like a serious medical emergency!

My mom would say this to me when I was in a bad mood. I suppose the analogy being that people with sticks stuck in their butt are cranky. But I think they have a justified anger.

Just like mine was justified. I mean I have a right to have a stick up my butt if I don’t want to wake up early to go to church. Right?

4. Your room is deplorable.

Deplorable? I will be honest and say that when I was a kid I had NO idea what that word meant. But the disdain with which my mother said it made me realize… it wasn’t a good thing. I didn’t need a dictionary to know that if she could smell my laundry, it was not a good thing.

Deplorable seemed like just about the worst thing you could call a room. Messy, dirty, sure. Those are words that are easy to identify. But heck if something is deplorable? I mean today that calls to mind the murderous tendencies of totalitarian regimes. But not the bedrooms of 9 year olds!

Even today when I look around my room and there are clothes scattered about I hear that sentence like a mantra in my head. It also brings to mind the Christmas gift my parents got me one year.

It was a door hanger that said “This room has been condemned by my mother.”

It seemed funny to everybody. Again, it was several years before I figured out what that word condemned meant.

5. Turn off that idiot box.

The idiot box they spoke of, was of course the television. My sister and I would have forgotten to have done our chores and would be watching cartoons in the basement and we’d hear that voice from above.

Turn of that idiot box and go clean your rooms.

And of course we would do so. Who wants to watch an idiot box? Probably idiots. And we did not want to be idiots. So off it went.

It was only when they got mad that it was called the “idiot box.” When they were in a good mood they called it “The Tube.”

What’s on the tube tonight?

It was never

Hey who wants to watch a little idiot box tonight? You kids want to rent a movie to watch on our idiot box?

And it all kind of makes sense in hindsight because I don’t watch T.V. It just sits in my living room. And I think “idiot box” when I walk by it.

And yes I have referred to some people as having a stick up their butt.

It’s probably genetic. One day I’ll probably tell my kids to “stop stretching the air” or something like that.

Maybe I should come up with some really confusing ones. That’s probably one of the joys of parenting, confusing the hell out of your kids. Yes that is what I will do. But I will have to put some effort into coming up with good ones. So I will sit here and think about it… with my finger up my nose.