Mo (mofic) wrote,

Family Catch Phrases

This came up tangentially in comments to another post.

I think all families have certain catch phrases and inside jokes that make sense only to them. How they come up with them and the meaning they have for the people involved is infinitely interesting to me. Anyone want to share? I'll go first. Here are a couple from my family of origin:

My mother, who was wonderful at all textile arts, tried a few times to teach me to knit but I just never got it. I attribute that to me being a klutz, but she always attributed it to me being left-handed and she just didn't know how to teach someone left-handed.

So one day she came home from the grocery store with one of those Family Circle or Women's Day magazines because it had in big letters on the cover "Learn to Knit, Including Illustrated Instructions for Left-Handers." We read the article, which indeed had illustrations, and couldn't find any reference to left-handed knitting. Then, on the third read, she spotted an asterisk at the beginning of it. At the bottom of the page it said, "For left-handers: reverse all references to right and left and hold illustrations upside down in front of a mirror." While knitting :-).

So anything that offered more than it delivered was called "left-handed knitting instructions" in our family.

At a family vacation to Washington, DC, we were at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. We were looking at the Hall of Minerals when my parents noticed that my sister Kayo, then five years old, was holding a small rock. This rock looked suspiciously like one of the very large rocks on display. Our parents took her off into the corner and grilled her:

"Where did you get the rock?"
"I found it."
"Where did you really get it?"
"I found it. Really. It was just lying on the floor."

Well, they still had their doubts but what can you do? They figured it was best to just accept the story. Only then my brother Hart (two years older than Kayo) kept bugging her about her rock.

"Let me see your rock."
"No, it's mine."
"Come on, just let me hold it for a minute."
"No, it's mine."

This went on for a while until she got thoroughly exasperated and yelled at him in one of those loud child voices in the crowded hall: "Oh go chip your own!"

We left quickly. From that moment on whenever you caught someone in a lie in our family you said "Oh go chip your own."

And one from my current family:

Doran could not say "th" for a long time, replacing it either with an "h" or an "f" sound. So he said, "I hink" instead of "I think" but "I fought" instead of "I thought."

He went to a lovely day care/preschool in Battery Park City. He and I would travel together on an express bus from where we lived at the time to his school, and then I'd go to work from there. We left at 7:00 a.m. and he was often kind of tired and cranky. One day as we were getting on the bus he tripped on the stairs and started crying and yelling at the other passengers for "looking at me" falling. He was quite chagrined afterwards, and told this story to a friend of ours, saying "I was very upset and I said mean crying 'hings to all the people on the bus." So when one displaces one's anger or upset on perfect strangers, we call it saying mean crying 'hings to all the people on the bus. As in, "What a day I've had. I swear, I felt like saying mean crying 'hings to all the people on the bus all day."

Tags: family

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