My Irish Up: Things my mother said (and said) (and said)

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

My mother’s job was to take charge of utter chaos and pretend to give it shape and form.

As her children, our job was to provide the chaos. We felt our work gave mother a purpose in life, and she should be grateful. I don’t think she was. Actually, she sounded somewhat peeved, at times. She never learned to relax and go with the flow.

We kept her busy, anyway. We four kids were rambunctious, hyperactive, noisy excuses for human beings and she wasn’t. That was her problem, we told her. She was way too civilized to be our mother. We kids, she claimed, in her defense, were “enough to make a saint swear.” Somehow, this just proved to us how roguish and mischievous, and thus how irresistibly adorable we were. Though it went unacknowledged in the movie credits, Gremlins 2 was based on a series of misunderstandings that occurred in our dining room in 1957. But in the movie, all the little monsters died. At our house, the ending wasn’t quite as happy as that.

What follow are some of my mother’s favorite sayings — or at least some of her more commonly-used ones. Compare them to your own experiences.

“Were You Brought Up in a Barn, Child?” (And I’d answer: “No, but they say I was born in a manger!”)

“Because I Said So, That’s Why!”

“Clean Your Plate If You Want Dessert.” (Most satisfying answer: “We already ate the dessert, while you were cooking supper.”)

“Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!”

“You Didn’t Learn That Language In THIS House!” (Common answer: “But, I DID!”)

“Never Mind What Your Father Said.”

“Only Weed Out the Actual Weeds This Time!” (And I’d say, “Some people aren’t professional hicks, you know.”)

“You’d Forget Your Head If It Wasn’t Sewn On!”

“What Is WRONG With You, Child?”

“Do You Know How to Say Please?”

“Belching Will Probably Not Be a Profitable Career Path.” (Best answer: “It’s worked so far for Dad!”)

“Mind Your Ps & Qs.”

“Are You Wearing Clean Underwear, For the Autopsy?”

“You’re Getting Too Big for Your Britches!”

“I SAID, Stop Clobbering Your Brother With the Garage Door!” (Unvarying answer: “But, he started it!”)

Day after day, the same old things. At least, I think she was saying the same old things. Frankly, we tuned her out after the first year or two.

Many of mother’s sayings were impromptu, and somewhat more brilliant because of that. For example: “If God Had Wanted Man to Fly, He Would Have Given Woman a More Powerful Dropkick.”

She once told me, “This Is Going to Hurt You More Than It’s Going to Hurt Me!” and I asked if she didn’t have that backward, what with all the regret she’d face and so forth. “No,” she said, “I won’t feel a thing. I’m going to wear oven mitts.”

Some of mom’s sayings were specially adapted for northern New Hampshire.

“I’ve told and told you: Always Wear Your Winter Coat,” she chided one day, in admonitory caps like that.

“But, Mom, it’s June!”

“I know that, Einstein, but look outside — it’s also snowing!”

Mike’s mom would also demand: “You’re not writing down everything I say to be used against me when I’m gone, are you?” And, he would respond, “Of course not! That would be wrong.”

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