Parental prattle

Parents are easy to spot, and not just because they usually look frazzled and sleep-deprived. Their speech patterns give them away.

Even when their children aren't around, parents talk like parents. They say things that childless adults never utter.

Parentspeak is largely a product of fatigue and distraction. For parents, life is one big conversation, a constant barrage of prodding and permission-seeking and Pokemon. It wears us down. We resort to spouting parental cliches because it's easier than being creative. Pretty soon, we're channeling our own parents, singing old standards like: "Well, it didn't just get up and walk away, now did it?"

Being around children all the time is hazardous in another way, too. Their incessant prattle plants seeds in our minds, which later come blooming from our lips as inappropriate adult conversation.

If, for example, a business contact answers your every "did not" with a "did, too," you can bet she's a parent. If a deskmate asks you to catch his phone while he goes to "poop," there's no question that he's got small children at home. If a colleague uses the phrase "I'm rubber and you're glue" . . . well, you get the idea.

We here at The Home Front have collected examples of parental cliches for your reading pleasure. Be warned, however. None of these phrases should be used in the company of other adults. Never say any of the following in a business setting.

With that caution in mind, here then, are:

The Top 50 Things That Only Parents Say:

50. Use soap.
49. Don't kiss the dog.
48. Where are your shoes?
47. If I were a shoe, where would I be?
46. Hay is for horses.
45. What part of "no" do you not understand?
44. Tickle, tickle, tickle.
43. Tie your shoes.
42. All right, look sloppy. See if I care.
41. Don't sit so close. You'll ruin your eyes.
40. Your socks don't match.
39. It's on your left. No, your other left.
38. Why is the remote control all sticky?
37. When I was a boy, we didn't even have remote controls . . .
36. Turn that down. You'll wake the dead.
35. Hush. (Try that one on a co-worker sometime.)
34. Zip it. (Ditto.)
33. Blow on it. (Don't go there.)
32. Use your napkin.
31. Don't shovel your food.
30. Because it builds strong bones.
29. Three more bites.
28. Clean your room.
27. You call this clean?
26. Why do I have to do everything around here?
25. If I hear "Pikachu" one more time . . .
24. Stop talking and go to sleep.
23. If your brother jumped off a cliff . . .
22. Aw, get up. That didn't hurt.
21. I'll kiss it and make it better.
20. When I was your age . . .
19. I don't know. I haven't been wearing your shoes, now have I?
18. Close the door. Were you raised in a barn?
17. In or out, in or out. Make up your mind.
16. When you start paying the utility bills around here . . .
15. Stop slamming that door!
14. Money doesn't grow on trees.
13. By the time I count to three . . .
12. Walk faster.
11. Stop running!
10. Don't you run from me!
9. Don't put that in your mouth. You don't know where it's been.
8. Did you go?
7. Get down from there!
6. Somebody's gonna get hurt!
5. Put that down. You'll put your eye out.
4. This is my final warning . . .
3. What's that smell?
2. We'll see.

And, the Number One Thing That Only Parents Say is: "Because I said so."

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