Universal things parents say to kids

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Rick Ryckeley

“Don’t take a shower during a thunderstorm. You’ll get struck by lightning.” Why my parents told us this I still don’t have a clue. The chance of this happening was almost zero, mainly because my brothers and I rarely took baths, much less showers.

And please tell me how a lightning bolt is going to bypass all those trees outside, travel through the house, up the stairs, past a closed bathroom door just to strike little ol’ me while I was in the shower? Not gonna happen. Still, it didn’t stop my parents from issuing this dire warning whenever the sky darkened and it started to rain.

“Don’t eat an hour before swimming or you’ll get a leg cramp.” Eating food will give you a leg cramp? Eating too much food gave us a stomach-ache, but never a leg cramp. We told Twin Brother Mark not to eat before swimming because the extra food would weigh him down and he’d sink like a rock. This worked out great for everyone. Mark never sank and my brothers and me got extra food.

“Go to your room! Don’t come out until you apologize.” My parents punished us this way at least four times a week. This one I understand, but it simply doesn’t work anymore. With computers, cell phones, and all kind of handheld devices, kids love staying in their rooms. Punishment is making them stay out of their rooms and spending time with the rest of the family.

“Children should be seen and not heard.” “Go out and play; just be home before dinner.” “You’ve got two choices for dinner: Eat what I cook or don’t eat at all.” All of these warnings we heard quite often, but they’ve changed with the times.

Children are now seen and heard – quite loudly. Especially when you’re trying to carry on a conversation with another adult or trying to use a phone. The days of telling kids to go outside and play in the neighborhood without adult supervision for minutes, much less hours, are long gone. But something that hasn’t changed is having picky eaters at dinnertime. This is especially true around our house.

Our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, are our picky eaters; even more so than we were growing up. One night I had had enough. From shopping at the grocery store, cooking, and cleaning up a couple of spills from “I dunno,” I’d spent the better part of two hours getting dinner on the table.

I gruffly told the girls there were two choices: “Either eat what I cooked or don’t eat at all.” I put the food in front of them and sat down. I was rather proud of myself for uttering those same words my father had told me so long ago.

Unfortunately, the results were very different. The kids still didn’t eat their dinner and I got kicked under the table. Not by them, but by The Wife! (Special Readers Note: To those who are not married, a swift kick under the table is a telltale sign that the husband has just said something he shouldn’t have.)

Finally, another frequent warning repeated by our parents was, “Stop making that goofy face at your sister or it’ll get stuck that way forever.” One look in the mirror and I realize perhaps that last one had some truth to it.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]