“But mothers lie. It’s in the job description.”

My outside clothes are clean and have all their buttons and no holes. The colors match even down to my socks; however, my mother would be embarrassed by my inside clothes. If that accident she warned me about countless times ever happened, the holes in my socks and the torn elastic of my clean, but falling apart, underwear would have her humiliated. She and I were world’s apart in our underwear theory. I believe that what’s hidden is of little importance. She didn’t. I figure no one sees it anyway, and if that accident really happened, I suspect the doctor would be too intent on my injuries to criticize my hole ridden socks and underwear.

My mother was the font of all wisdom. We always believed her. I never swallowed gum. If I had, I’d probably still be digesting it as we were warned the gum stayed in our system for years. I imagined a giant pink ball of bubble gun sitting in the middle of my stomach growing bigger and more menacing. My mother told us our tongues turned black when we lied. I’d look in the mirror and see my regular pink tongue. Only mothers could see the black tongue was the reason. I swallowed that whole story. If she asked me something and I’d lied, I wouldn’t show her my tongue. Little did I know I was implicating myself. I never went outside with wet hair. I didn’t want pneumonia. I never ate watermelon seeds. I didn’t want a garden growing in my stomach. Besides, it would have had to fight for room with the bubble gum ball. I never went blind or even blurry eyed sitting close to the TV.

We never questioned my mother. We believed everything she told us. My entire generation waited an hour after lunch before we went back into the water. My mother had a direct line to the North Pole and Santa’s ear. Fright made us good before Christmas.

I have no idea what works on kids today. Google has put an end to watermelon gardens and giant balls of bubble gum.

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14 Comments on ““But mothers lie. It’s in the job description.””

  1. Mom Says:

    I love this post so much! It’s so true and transparent to all of us…Mothers and Mothered 🙂

  2. olof1 Says:

    I waited for years for that grape vine to grow out of my mouth 🙂 But it was my sister that told me that 🙂 I also learned not to swallow bubble gum but my sister (always her 🙂 ) said it would stick to my ribs for ever 🙂 But then again, I never really liked bubble gum so that was a minor reason for worrying 🙂

    I don’t care how my underwear looks as long as they are clean 🙂 Like You I doubt that they would care if there would be big holes in them if they at the same time were trying to save my life. I doubt they would stop and start shouting But look at his underwear! There are big holes in them so we really can’t save him 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I never fell for the black tongue though 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      The grape vines are new to me. I guess we didn’t have enough grapes for that threat to have much meaning. I think my mother extended it t any gum swallowing, not just bubble gum.

      I totally agree about the underwear. Clean should be enough. I suspect it might even be cut off of they had to do surgery. I’d rather have underwear with holes cut than good underwear.

      I was little but I believed in the black tongue.

      Have a great evening!

  3. Birgit Says:

    Always watermelon WITH seeds because of “Don’t play with the food!” and “Whatever is put on the table has to be eaten!”. Resistance was futile – “Don’t talk during dinner!”. Common sayings back then. Times have changed, but I still feel a little bit anarchistic when I remove some watermelon seeds nowadays.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      We’d eat the watermelon outside and spit the seeds. It was a contest to see who could spit the farthest. We had whatever we put on the plate had to be eaten. My mother seldom served what we didn’t like. I think she figured it was easier than arguing.

      Dinner was when my parents caught up with school and what we were all doing. It was a noisy affair.

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I never swallowed the watermelon seeds but I was also disinclined to spit them and would offload them into my hand. I was so happy when seedless fruits became commonplace. 🙂
    My mother told us all those stories along with the one about your face freezing in whatever horrid expression you had pulled. She also wanted us to wear intact underthings just in case we were in an accident. At some point I figured out that if the accident were that serious, they’d be cutting my no doubt dirty or otherwise soiled clothing off me anyway. Holey undies would be the least of my issues at that point. 🙂

    Today was do nothing day. Too nice out to have errands and chores.
    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Watermelon spitting contests were one of the highlights of eating them. I seldom won.

      Yup, my freeze was going to freeze too. I always wondered why my mother wasn’t worried more about me than my clean underwear.

      I had a doctor’s appointment then it was off to CVS. At home I did nothing. I have been suffering all week and have been walking bent over and looking like a question mark. The doctor said I had a hip sprain. It is finally getting better.

      Have a great evening!

  5. flyboybob Says:

    My mother also told us that our noses would grow if we lied and mine never got any bigger until I finished going through puberty. Fortunately, my large honker is a result of genetics and not lies. I come from a family loaded with large noses because air is free. There must have been a kind of mom’s Internet in those days that mother’s of baby boomers subscribed because all those crazy ideas were universal.

    I’m sure that EMTs discuss the condition and cleanliness of accident victim’s underwear while having a beer after work. Since the 1950s the NIH has spent millions developing watermelon’s that contain seeds that can’t germinate in the human stomach. These things only happened during the Great Depression. I’m amazed that I didn’t catch my death of cold in winter going from my high school’s natatorium to class with wet hair. We can only hope that modern science can find a cure for wet head colds and then tackle cancer.

    Another windy, clear warm day with a high in the 80s. The cold front is expected tomorrow to drop the highs into the lower 70s.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I think there was a handbook all the mothers got in those days. Contained within were all those warnings about food and telling lies.

      I can’t believe EMT’s would waste their time discussing underwear. Many don’t even take the underwear off. They tend to add an IV or shock hearts into starting again. I went looking and found three sites which said seeds didn’t grow. One site even did experiments to prove it. That was, it seems, another tale mother’s told.

      I showered at night so wet hair and school were never an issue, but my brother showered in the morning, and he was warned. He never did catch a cold.

      it was 55˚ here today and pleasant. It will be in the 60’s tomorrow. This has been a wonderful fall so far.

      • flyboybob Says:

        I’m glad to hear that seeds don’t grow in the gut and now let’s cure cancer. 🙂

        Maybe EMTs don’t bother with underwear but ER docs and nurses report dirty or torn underwear back to your mother if she is alive. Otherwise, your underwear report is filed for posterity in the National Archives. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        When I was brought into emergency by the ambulance, they put all my belongings in a plastic bag. As I was by myself, it ended up in my room. That was a good thing as I had something (minus the used underwear) to wear home.


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