My 4-year-old daughter is staring at my wedding photo. “Mommy, why do you look different in this picture?” she asks. I know she isn’t using the word different in a good way. No toddler ever does. But here’s the thing: She’s not trying to hurt my feelings. She’s just saying what she notices, and she’s not alone. All kids do it. They just say what’s on their minds because they haven’t learned the nuances of politeness and keeping thoughts to yourself. And kids are at their most honest when talking to mom and dad. We’d never tolerate hearing these things from someone else. But when it comes to our kids, they can say things no one else can. Here are nine doozies that my kids have said to me:
1. “Mommy, why do you look different in this photo?” As I explained, she thinks I look older in my wedding photo…and she asks me this question often. I try to brush it off, but I inevitably start Googling plastic surgeons the minute she goes to bed.
2. “Your tummy looks big.” Both of my children have said this to me at some point in their lives — and they’ve left me no choice but to suck it in whenever they’re nearby. That’s easier than going on a diet.
3. “Your breath is stinky.” There’s nothing more humbling than trying to kiss your kid and being rebuffed due to a lack of freshness. If only my kids knew how many times I hugged and kissed them when they were stinky.
4. “Don’t sing!” My kid has the tact of Simon Cowell on “American Idol” and would prefer that I just “stay quiet” while she sings to Frozen. Apparently, my voice is yucky.
5. “I like Daddy better than you.” There are certain perks to being the unpopular parent. You don’t have to be the one to wake them up in the morning, drive them to school, or help them in the middle of the night. Sadly, I’ve never been on the receiving end of those perks when my kids tell me they like their dad a lot better than they like me.
6. “This dinner is disgusting.” It takes me 30 minutes to make dinner and it takes my kids 30 seconds to tell me why they hate it. Paying customers aren’t this rude to chefs in a restaurant, making kids at dinnertime the ultimate food snobs.
7. “I wish I lived at my friend’s house. It’s more fun.” Kids have no idea that sometimes we wish they lived at their friend’s house, too. We just don’t say it aloud because that would be rude and unkind. How come our kids don’t mind being rude and unkind?
8. “I hate you.” I recognize it’s a rite of passage that every mom will be told her child hates her at least once. But the first time it happens, it stings deeply. My kid doesn’t hate me in the global sense. She just hates me when I won’t let her have M&Ms for dinner or when I tell her she has to do something horrible, like take a bath.
9. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Mommy!” Whenever my kids get confused about something I’ve known for 30 years they tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Because when you are 7- and 4-years-old, you are an expert on everything. And the lady driving the car? She doesn’t know a damn thing.
So I told you mine. Now you tell me yours. Go!
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Graphic: Meredith Gordon