As a kid growing up in the South, I learned the difference between sarcasm and sincerity real fast. I learned that tone only makes up about 40% of each individual way of speaking; the other 60% is all in the body language. And y’all — ain’t nobody got that tone and body language down-pat quite like we southern mommas.
Before I had kids, I only thought I’d inherited the gift prematurely. Psh! I was a timid little dormouse until I had kids. These days I speak sarcasm so fluently, most people think I’m the nicest, most sincere person they’ve ever laid eyes on. My kids are little smart-asses, too, but they don’t got nothin’ on their momma. Y’all call it being passive-aggressive; we call it issuing a dare.
Oh, sure; we mean what we say. But the true brilliance of SM language is the ability to almost speak in code with the eyes. You may HEAR, “Go right on ahead and touch that fence”. But if you’re paying real close attention to the shifting of our gaze and the clenching of our fists, then you know what we really mean is, “Go ahead and touch the fence, smart ass. But we’re not going to the hospital and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna listen to your bitchin’.” So this brings me to the topic at hand: stuff southern mommas say.
- Excuse me?!
Y’all, when you hear this you better hit the ground runnin’ and hope to God we can’t get our flip flops off in time to chuck it at the back of your head. I have said, “Excuse me?!” so many times to my kids that the last time I sneezed, the boys both cleaned the entire house and offered to cook dinner. Poor babies hadn’t even done anything — that time. But momma don’t play. And if momma ain’t playin, ain’t nobody playin’.
- Go ahead and touch (insert object here) after I said not to.
This is the ultimate “don’t even think about it”. Most of the time I don’t even have to come through with a punishment because whatever it is my kid(s) has (have) touched is punishment enough. Case in point: I told Connor not to touch my straightener the other day. Now, I’m not above baby-proofing and there’s no way in hell I’d have that thing low enough for Mason to get to it. But Con is old enough to know (and I’ve reiterated enough) that the damn straightener is HOT, and just like the oven, we don’t touch it. So what’s he do? Well, the little smart-alec went in and just barely touched the plate. I mean just barely; it didn’t even leave a mark. It scared him more than it hurt. But he knew to “suck it up, buttercup” because I’d already told him, “Uh, don’t touch that”. However, sometimes the kids slip up and still come running after doing something less than intelligent. In those cases, we hit ’em with…
- Don’t come runnin’ to me. I don’t want to hear it.
Here’s the phrase that often gets us southern mommas in a fair amount of hot water, but we don’t care. Listen, a kid’s gotta learn at some point in his or her life how not to do stupid things. We like to call this “experience”. If you haven’t experienced something, you’ll never know the rewards or pitfalls that whatever-it-is can bring you. It’s kind of like riding a bike: once you learn, you never forget. So in the bicycle ride of life, you gotta bust your ass a few times before you’re riding a Tour de France. Also, on a less logical basis, this really means, “I TOLD YOU SO.”
- Bless your heart.
This one has been done to death, but there are so many possible meanings to this phrase. Sure, we may mean we’ll pray for your momma and them — but probably not. Generally speaking, we’re telling you in the nicest way possible to get over yourself. Hey, sometimes we all need to hear it.
- Oh, honey.
“Oh, honey” is simply a less condescending way of saying, “Bless your heart”. Sometimes we even mean, “Oh, honey”. However, the sincerity is limited to the death of a loved one, a bad hairdo, or getting into Ole Miss but not LSU. If you’ve been “oh, honey-ed” recently but haven’t experienced any of the above scenarios, then someone out there thinks you’re a few bricks short of a house.
- Lemme say it one more time.
For the love of God and all that is holy, don’t make that woman repeat herself. Unless, of course, you enjoy frostbite. Then go for it.
- God don’t like ugly.
Stop runnin’ your head about your cousin’s sister’s fiancé.
- Did I ask who put it there.
No, I didn’t mean to insert a question mark. This is a STATEMENT, y’all. Not a question. And if you value your hide at all, you’ll pick up whatever it is that’s on the ground, table, or couch FAST.
- I know you did not!
Gabe’s teacher reminded me of this one yesterday and I laughed out loud. I’m constantly saying this to my boys. The look on my boys’ faces when they hear this — Lawd. I can’t even put it into words. It’s definitely a “deer-in-headlights meets aliens are coming” kind of face. For those of you who are lucky enough to have never heard ya momma say, “I know you did NOT!”, let me fill you in on the meaning: your ass is grass. You will soon to meet your Maker. Hit the deck, Bud, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. In short: you’ve really screwed yourself and there’s no gettin’ out of it.
- You’re killin’ me, smalls.
Okay, so this one may not be limited to us southern moms. But I know for certain we say this A LOT. And, really, it speaks for itself. Say the kids aren’t really being bad, just… “plentiful”. Coming in and out, in and out, in and out… letting out the “bought air”. Or runnin’ wild in the heat of the day, all up in your house? You don’t really want to jerk a knot in anyone because your own momma taught you to pick your battles. So the next best thing to clotheslining your own spawn is to simply let out an exasperated, “YA KILLIN’ ME, SMALLS!” The kids get the message, count their blessings that there is still breath within their lungs, and for a solid two minutes there is peace. It’s only fair — about ten minutes into more rough-housing, one of the aforementioned statements is going to come rushin’ out of your mouth faster than a Nascar at Daytona.
- Lastly, You are my sunshine.
I don’t want anyone leaving this post thinking that us Scarlett O’Haras, Blanche Devereauxs, or Ousier Boudreauxs do anything less than love our kids. They are the lights of our lives. Our reasons for loving anyone from the mud to the moon. And, yeah — sometimes they are our emergency trips to Target for a big-ass bottle of Tylenol and a box of wine. But they teach us as we teach them. They love us as we love them. And one day they’ll leave the nest and have children of their own. Until that day comes, we’ll be back porch sittin’, summer day spendin’, and on the couch cuddlin’ with our littles.
Until they piss us off. Then they better run.