In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 29, 2008 / 24 Iyar 5768 5768

Phrased and confused

By Malcolm Fleschner

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm proud to say that I've been preparing for parenthood ever since my own youth, when I dedicated a great deal of thought to what kind of parent I wanted to be. Or, more precisely, to the kind of parent I didn't want to be - specifically, the unreasonable, dictatorial kind like my mother, who forced her kids to do chores like take out the trash and unload the dishwasher with no regard to whether "Mork and Mindy" was about to come on, the kind who was too cheap to buy her son an Atari video game system, despite repeated explanations about how every other child in school already had one and that her son was rapidly becoming the laughingstock of the neighborhood because of his inability to reach level two in a simple game of "Asteroids."

Often, after Mom unfairly demanded that I perform yet another chore - say, cleaning up my room - I would generously volunteer my thoughts on her parental shortcomings. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a cool parent - I won't make my kids clean their rooms," I would shout from behind the pile of toys, sports equipment, candy wrappers and rapidly petrifying dirty socks I was trying to bulldoze from my bedroom floor into an already overstuffed closet. I'm still not exactly sure how my presumptive future child's messy room was supposed to show my mother the error of her ways.

Future Me: "Well, Mom, take a good look at your grandson's room. Quite a pig sty, isn't it?"

Mom: "Yes, it's disgusting."

Future Me: "So what do you have to say for yourself?"

Mom: "I am so sorry. You were right all along. Can you ever forgive me?"

Frankly, my mother's unreasonable demands might have been tolerable if they weren't always accompanied by her favorite parental catchphrases that seemed designed to irritate me. For example, after telling her I'd finished with my room, she always responded by fixing me with a skeptical look and saying, "Really? Will it pass inspection?"

Her frequent use of this particular expression merely confirmed my suspicions that before having children she'd done a stint as a Marine Corps drill instructor. Either that or a prison warden - I was never sure. Somehow I resisted the urge to offer a smart remark like, "Will it pass inspection? How the hell should I know - you're the inspector!" I didn't want to risk magnifying my woes by being told to drop and give her 200 pushups or perhaps getting sent to solitary confinement.

Other "greatest hits" from Mom's parental catchphrase library that I came to know and loathe included "Because I said so," "Don't make me stop this car," and "How many times do I have to tell you not to play ball in the house/chew with your mouth open/use your sister's stuffed animals for target practice?" In retrospect, perhaps I should consider myself lucky that my parents divorced when I was only a year old, sparing me the indignity of having to hear that classic, "Just wait until your father comes home."

Much as I hated all of these admonitions, my least favorite was unquestionably "What's the matter with you?" Mom trotted out this chestnut whenever she caught me doing something particularly dimwitted, such as conducting a highly scientific experiment into the comparative combustibility of plastic army men versus plastic army men doused with lighter fluid. I hated this question because it always left me flustered, unable to produce a good answer. Not until college when I studied child psychology did I realize that the proper response to "What's the matter with you?" would have been, "Well, it basically comes down to 'nature' or 'nurture,' Mom, and either way you're responsible."

Faced with such an oppressive environment, all that got me through childhood was the determination that I would never subject my own children to any of these phrases. Now that I have young children of my own, I realize that my mother may not have been quite the ogre I painted her out to be in my many pleading letters to Mr. Rogers, the local office of Child Protective Services and the United Nations' secretary-general. Nevertheless, so far I have lived up to my pledge to avoid using any of my mother's signature lines on my kids.

Mind you, this doesn't make me the World's Greatest Dad or anything (my own father continues to retain that title - along with the T-shirt to prove it). It just means that as my kids get into their prime misbehaving years I'm going to have to think of irritating catchphrases all my own to keep them in line. So far the most effective one I've come up with is, "Should we see what your grandmother has to say about this?"

JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.


05/13/08: Take this job and love it
04/17/08: News you can (re)use
04/02/08: Commercial (over)load
02/20/08: An overdose of reality
02/14/08: A developing situation
01/30/08: I can tech it or leave it
01/02/08: Confessions of a coke addict
01/02/08: Our bills are due
12/13/07: Going (to lunch) once, going twice…
11/28/07: Out with the old
11/06/07: My latest pet project
11/06/07: Can't tune it out
10/23/07: Something special in the hair
09/12/07: Can I have your attention, please?
09/12/07: Houston, we have an image problem
08/21/07: In the heat of fashion
08/09/07: Let's get in the game
06/13/07: You gonna eat that?
05/08/07: That's disinter-tainment
05/02/07:You Are (not) Getting Sleepy...
04/18/07: No time like Father Time
03/15/07: Deface the Nation
03/08/07: More gifts? You shouldn't have
02/22/07: Relationships can be such a chore
12/05/06: Who's calling the shots?
11/09/06: I'm taking selling to a whole new level
10/27/06: Some skills are beyond repair
10/18/06: You can't tech it with you
10/04/06: Award to the wise
08/24/06: Phrased and Confused
08/09/06: We're Gonna Party Like it's $19.99
07/19/06: Just Singing in the Brain
05/24/06: Who says you can't go home again?
05/11/06: When nightly news stories go off script
04/26/06: Cents and sensibility: A thought for your pennies
03/16/06: The day the Muzak died
02/23/06: Checkbook diplomacy begins at home
02/15/06: Today's toys: Where learning means earning

© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner