Do you ever worry that you and your husband won't have a thing left to say to each other when the kids finally move out? I used to. But now I'm convinced that this happens not because you haven't maintained your relationship but because, after 20-some years of raising children, you just are tired of hearing yourself talk. You just want peace and quiet.
But maybe if I just save my breath and stop uttering these useless phrases at the children, my husband and I won't be completely mute by the time our nest is empty.
Get your shoes on. I say this way too often to the boy child. He does know how to get at least two pairs of his own shoes on. But inevitably by the time we have to leave, he's wandering around aimlessly after at least five exhortations to get his shoes on. Jim suggested that I just stop saying this altogether.
Did you look? This is my most common response to Danny's lament "I can't find it, mom." And, of course, like most men in training, he hasn't really looked. Whatever item he's searching for is usually hiding in plain sight and I utter this next senseless phrase:
Do I have to come up there? Yes. Yes, I do. After 50 trips up and down the stairs daily, usually toting a 20-pound infant, you'd think I'd have lost some weight by now.
Do you have to go pee? The answer is always no. Always. And he always pees a river when he's finally been corralled into the bathroom. Now Fiona is saying no to this question, but she almost always pees when she gets there.
Eat your food. I find that I have to be specific here. I still have kids who frequently stuff mulch and leaves in their mouths. Oddly, lately before nap time we have pretend lunch whereby the children fix invisible food from the kitchen set and sit at the little table in Fiona's room "eating." I also have to emphasize the "your" part as Fiona seems to eat only when she thinks that she's eating someone else's food.
Don't make a mess. Apparently, this is in the job description for kids. I can always tell where they've been and what they've been doing by what they leave behind. Play dough under the kitchen table and a mound of soft soap in the bathroom sink tells a story. So does water streaming from the refrigerator across the kitchen floor and that trail of toilet paper in the hallway.
Use a napkin. I dread having to dress them or myself up for anything because they will smear something, usually snot, on my or their clothes within two seconds of getting dressed. They are both obsessed with napkins, ask for them frequently yet never, ever use them. In fact, in Danny's first-ever school picture, he's wearing part of his breakfast. Maybe I shouldn't have laughed at the three-year-old I saw at Danny's preschool wearing a bib. I bet his school picture is flawless. This is why I was hesitant to try a formal family portrait this year. I'd have to dress all of us at the studio.
Leave your sister/brother alone. I think it's in the unwritten sibling constitution that they have to agitate the living crap out of each other, which, of course, agitates me.
Because I said so. To which my son says, "Ooohhhh, don't say so." I swore I'd never say this to my kids. They deserve answers. Real answers. After the fifth "Why?" though, I've run out of answers and feel that mommy deserves a brownie for the four somewhat coherent answers already provided.