My brother and sister became parents before I did, and I spent a lot of time observing them interact with my nieces and nephews when the kids were small, cataloging the moments that lay in wait for me. I have a vivid memory of something my brother yelled to my then-3-year-old nephew, nicknamed Monkey, as the child raced around behind his older cousins at a family barbeque:
"Monk! Remember to open your eyes when you run, so you don't crash into things!"
Then he looked at me and said, "Yeah, that was something I never thought I would have to actually say to my child," while I doubled over laughing.
Fast forward a few years and the list of things I never thought I would have to say to my kids is equally bizarre.
"You are allowed to climb out of bed by yourself. Go ahead, try it, you can do it! Just put your foot on the floor! It's right there!" (The transition from crib to toddler bed was harder mentally than it was physically.)
"Which one of you girls asked me to buy you bunion spacers?" (#BalletMoms. The struggle is real, y'all.)
"Stop telling your sister that she's less Chinese than you." (My "ethnicity is not a choice" speech has had little impact to date.)
To reassure myself that it's not just me, I asked a few of my funniest writer friends for phrases they'd been shocked to hear emanate from their own lips. Good news! It's not just me.
During a one-sided outdone wrestling match: "Your brother doesn't fold that way! He's not a wallet!"
In response to the 12-year-old's complaint of "It hurts my eyes real bad when I press on them like this." "THEN STOP PRESSING ON THEM LIKE THAT!"
After son is finished with his shower in 2.5 minutes: "Did you use soap? I don't think you used soap. Come here, let me smell your butt."
"This discussion doesn't go any further until all three of you girls acknowledge I'm the craziest person in this house! I have papers!"
"I do enough laundry to know whose bra belongs to whom."
"Can we come up with code words for pads and tampons? I don't like being so comfortable with y'all asking me to buy them for you as is."
"Why am I the only person in this house required to wear a shirt? Outside this house society says the opposite."
(Remember I live with four women.)
"Stay in the backseat and go potty in the Von's bag. It will be just like camping."
"I repeat: No lightsabers in the shower."
"Pick your poo up off the floor before the dog eats it again."
"No, I won't make you a list of all the cuss words I know."
"But hon, you've already got enough guns, knives and swords."
"You gonna eat those fries?"
"Why don't you invite a bunch of your friends over?"
"You will sit in this car until 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is over. It's an important piece of musical history."
"Thank you for showing me your poop, Sam. It definitely looks like the Millennium Falcon. No, Mommy's never been that lucky with her own poop."
To 13-year-old: "Because he doesn't understand. Stop telling him he wasn't born when you were a baby because he thinks it means he was dead and I'm pretty damned tired of him yelling he's undead."
To 11-year-old: "So you wrote a secret letter to the Grinch and put it under your pillow and it's still there and you're upset that he didn't write back? Do I have this straight?"
To 5-year-old: "The point is, you cannot put broccoli on your penis before you eat it. Wait, what are you chewing?"
"No, I would never breastfeed a pug."