While chatting with a friend today, I reminisced a bit about my kids when they were younger, and the grey hairs they have so generously given me over the years. That conversation got me thinking of the different parenting scenarios I’ve
survived experienced with my children.
When I was a mom with young kids, there were a few phrases I’d hear that would make my heart drop in my chest. “Your credit card has been denied” was one of them, “I’m sorry, we’re out of that brand of wine” was another, and “I forgot to tell you, mom, I need…” was an anxiety inducing sentence, no matter what they added to the end of it.
There’s one, though, that stands out from the rest. Never will a mother ever hear anything more frightening than “Mommy, look!” This is the child equivalent of “hold my beer.”
There is a direct relation between how many times the word “mommy” is used and how much time will be spent at the doctor’s office later. “Mommy, look” usually can be fixed with a band-aid and a few kisses, but “mommy, mommy, mommy look” is probably going to end up in an emergency room visit.
Even more frightening is when they add words or phrases to the basic “mommy, look.” Additional phrases can be “Look at me, mommy,” “look what I can do,” or even worse, “mommy, look what I learned in school today.”
Sometimes, the action is more embarrassing than dangerous. “Mommy, guess what Uncle Fred taught me today?” is a dangerous thing for a young kid to say in a crowded elevator. Other times, a “mommy, look” can be inspired by a movie. Even an innocent movie, like Mary Poppins, can have your kid teetering on the garage roof with an opened umbrella. Don’t ask me how I know this.
As moms, we picture our Facebook and social media pages as being full of sweet posts, adorable pictures, and heartfelt videos. Instead, we get emergency room photos of smiling kids holding up arms in casts – all with one thing in common; the incidents probably all started with “Mommy, mommy, mommy, look what I can do!” This is a real thing; doctors can now legally bill your insurance for “uh oh” and “mommy, look.”
Speaking of which, “uh oh” is another loaded toddler phrase, roughly equating to “I spilled my beer.” The “uh oh” by itself can range from dropped food to “I drew with crayon on the Mona Lisa while you weren’t looking.” It can be paired with “mommy, look” for added anxiety. “Uh oh, mommy, look” is slightly less frightening than “mommy, look! Uh oh.” If you understand the difference, you are truly a mom.
Unfortunately for women, while little girls will eventually grow out of the “mommy, look” stage, their male counterparts never do. They may exchange umbrellas for ladders, garage roofs for four-wheelers, and “mommy, look” for “here, hold my beer,” but the basic concept is the same. Men’s “uh ohs” can be loosely translated to “look out!” or “damn, didn’t see that coming.” Either translation will probably equate to an emergency room visit and stitches. Lots of stitches.
A mom can tell you, though, that on par with “mommy, look” is The Silence from the Other Room. This is a much subtler approach for kids; it sneaks up on moms before they realize anything is even amiss. Usually, it happens after the fourth load of laundry and right around the time the unsuspecting mom finally collapses into her favorite chair with a sigh and a glass of wine. Then, it hits her…she hasn’t heard her children make a sound for over ten minutes. The length of quiet time will generally translate into exact degrees of trouble the child has found. A few minutes may only find a wall covered in lipstick, while ten minutes or more will most likely result in a child stuck upside down in the chimney.
Sadly, once the kids grow up, “mommy, look” is replaced by “mom, drop me off around the corner” and “uh oh” becomes “I know, I know” with an eye-roll chaser. The best advice for moms whose kids still want them to look? Look, every time. Before you know it, you aren’t cool enough to even be invited to see what they are doing anymore and, trust me, you’ll miss “uh oh” more than you can imagine.