A Translation Guide for the Stupid Crap Parents Say to Their Kids

by Larry Brantley
Originally Published: 

Why do parents say things to their children that seem so wildly out of touch with reality, logic, and common sense? Especially in light of the fact that parents were once children themselves, and have undoubtedly heard (and puzzled over) some of the very phrases they are now saying to their own children?

The answer is enlightening, and surprising: The stupid shit parents say to their children is actually code for words and sentiments they cannot actually say, because “society” and “the media” and “child protective services” frown on those kinds of things. It’s true. All of the ludicrous sayings you ever heard from Mom and Dad (some of which you are now using, if you’re a parent) actually mean something completely different.

The Guide is an honest attempt to reveal the true intent of those old, clichéd phrases handed down by generations of parents; it is intended to be a liberation of linguistic constraints for Mom and Dad. It’s also intended to be something of a revelation to the kids: You think we’re stupid and uncool. We’re actually evil-genius smart, and we’re getting away with saying what we really think of you sometimes without having to go to jail for it. You might consider that the next time you think about lipping off. Here, then, are some of the most universally used parental sayings—and what they actually mean:

“Because I said so.” I have exactly one nerve left today, you little shit. And you’re getting on it. I outclass you in age, intelligence, and life experience, and so I understand the difference between you asking “Why?” when you are genuinely seeking information, and you asking “Why?” because you’re stalling on a task I set for you that you clearly don’t want to do. I can train a monkey to unload the fucking dishwasher, and they’re cheaper to own. Would you like me to replace you with a monkey?

“I’ll give you something to cry about.” Oh, I know. You don’t need something else to cry about, because you’re already crying. Well, what you’re crying about is stupid. It’s called perspective, and I’d love to explain it to you, if you’d shut your caterwauling for two minutes. It’s not my fault they moved SpongeBob to a new date and time; if you’d take 10 seconds to learn how to push the one goddam button on the remote that you need to, I wouldn’t be having this conversation in my head. Baby.

“If you keep making that face, it’s going to stick like that forever.” I honestly, truly, with every fiber of my being hope and pray that your face will stick like that forever. Let’s see what kind of a classy girl you can land with an upturned nose, your tongue lolling out of your head and your eyelids inside out. Please, God, do this one thing for me, and I promise I’ll see you every Christmas and Easter from now until I die.

“This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.” This is going to hurt you. It’s not going to hurt me at all. I may take some small amount of satisfaction from it, which I might feel conflicted about later. But probably not.

“Wait until your Dad/Mom gets home.” You have absolutely no idea the amount of sheer willpower I am exercising right now. The kind of willpower that will keep you above ground and breathing until your other parent gets home, at which point I will telepathically communicate to him/her where I am with you, emotionally, right now. And I will punt responsibility for your continued existence squarely to them, and not give two shits what they do to you. I’m not too old to start over.

We at The Guide hope these translations will help you to gain a clearer understanding of the time-honored language of parenthood, especially now that you know what your parents were really saying. And why speaking in code is better than prison.

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