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Flashback Friday – The Things We Say

It is time once again for Flashback Friday with Linda of Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time. In Linda’s own words:

This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been!.

Participating in this meme and reading everyone’s answers is one of my weekly highlights. Grab the button and the link and come play along. Linda’s theme this week is:

What sort of sayings, colloquialisms, or proverbs did your family say when you were growing up? When were they used? What do you find yourself saying that you vowed you would never say? What do you say that drives your kids nuts? Is there a regional aspect to your speech? Do you have an accent and were you ever teased about it?

I think Gram and Dad were pretty common place with their standard parental sayings:

  • Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • That’s not a revolving door. Pick one side and stay on it.
  • Where you born in a barn?
  • There are starving children in China.
  • I don’t care what everybody else does, I’m not the parent of everybody else!
  • If I told you once, I told you a thousand times ….

My dad did have two sayings that always tempted me to answer back.  The sayings went together, but they didn’t really go together. One was, “Who told you to think?”  And the other was, “Don’t you ever think?”  In action they looked something like this ….

On Saturday mornings I mowed the lawn.  One particular Saturday I went out to mow and Dad had an extension cord stretched across the lawn from the tool shed (where it was plugged in) to the driveway.  The end in the driveway was not attached to anything.  I rolled the extension cord up and put it away, then I mowed the lawn.  Later Dad asked where his extention cord went.  I told him I put it away, and he wanted to know why.  I said, “I thought you were done with it.”  Dad responded, “Do me a favor, don’t think.  Just do as you’re told. Go put it back!”

The next Saturday I went out to mow the lawn and there was the extension cord, just like the previous week.  I picked it up, mowed the lawn, and put the cord back.  Later Dad wanted to know why the extension cord was still out.  I told him I’d put it back after I’d mowed the lawn.  He wanted to know why.  I said, “Because that’s what you told me to do.”  Dad said, “That was last week!  Why don’t you ever think?”

I very much wanted to say, “Because you told me not to!” but — because I do think — I knew that wasn’t in my best interest.  I just came to the conclusion that parents don’t listen to themselves, and made a mental note not to use those phrases on my kids.


  1. That’s so funny about the cord! Sometimes it’s hard to be a kid!

    I’m so glad you had time to do this; I knew you would have a fun story.

    Oh, and I love the “revolving door” statement!

    1. Linda — I was surprised not to see that revolving door statement on everybody’s post. I had no idea it wasn’t common.

  2. Speaking from personal experience only, I think most parents *do* think — however,

    1. they quickly forget whatever they said,


    2. they hope their kids forget any errors, omissions, or contradictions, or at least have the grace not to mention them… in the interest of keeping the peace with who’s feeding them.


    1. Susan — #3 — they don’t want to get in trouble. My father never hit me, but I had no doubt he would if given enough incentive. I worked very hard to prevent that scenario!

  3. I love to read your Flashback Fridays. You have such “strong” memories and really know how to make them interesting. Some of those sayings were used by my parents as well, like Nr. 1.
    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    1. Betty — I come from a family of storytellers. We naturally share and discuss the things that happen to us, which is what solidifies our memories.

  4. Oh, I forgot about all the starving children — another parental classic. I never heard the revolving door one, but my parents could have used it — I do remember them getting after us about going in and out too much — in the summer, we let too many bugs in when we kept opening the door, and in the winter time we let cold in. We didn’t have AC, so we didn’t let any more heat in the house than was otherwise there in the summertime.

    I think it was a wise decision not to answer your father in that last scenario. 🙂

    1. Barbara — you just reminded me of another saying! Gram used to say to anyone who was confused, surprised, or startled, “Don’t just stand there with your mouth open, the draft will give you an earache!”

  5. I wish my 17yo son would have the wisdom to step away from his desire to always have the last word. He’s at that age where he is SO SURE that he is RIGHT. Even his other teenage brothers will turn to him and say “STOP TALKING!!” when they see the steam beginning to rise from my head. But this particular child? He keeps going. Oy!!!

    1. Karen — one day the consequence of running his mouth will be great enough that he’ll learn to shut up. I never talked back to my elders (too physically painful) but I didn’t master the “shut up” skill with my peers until I was 30+ and I still can’t do it with a couple of my siblings — of course if they wouldn’t treat me like I’m 12 perhaps I wouldn’t act 12.

  6. Oh! MY starving children were in Africa… where I think they are still waiting to be fed. We parent types really are weirdos sometimes!

  7. i think parents all over the world have these words of wisdom. There must be a book out there somewhere with them in there. Selective memory at it’s best 🙂

  8. my dad said things like your dad…he didn’t hit us either, but we sure knew NOT to cross him…he was a little gruff at times. Looking back on all those years, he worked 6 days a week, around 60-65 hours weekly, and now I understand just how tired he was.

    Great post, girl!

  9. oh, a few of those sayings were quite common (probably still are) around here, too – like the money, the starving children (those from africa), telling it 1000 times…

    when to think and when not to is something i had difficulty with as well (no repartees on my side either)

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