I’m sure in every family there are sayings which are often repeated and being one of five children quite a few of our family sayings were intended to modify our behaviour. I wonder how many would now be considered “damaging to the child’s self esteem”. I don’t think a lot of time was spent on explanations or reasoning things out, it was all quite cut and dried.
If any of us were having a sulk about something Dad would say, “Watch you don’t trip over your bottom lip.” That made it clear we’d get no sympathy.
I always knew I was being selfish when I heard, “Darn you Jack, I’m alright“.
At mealtimes we knew we could come back for a second serve so it was considered very bad form to take food then leave some on our plate. We’d soon be told, “Your eyes were bigger than your belly”. Another on the same theme was, “waste not, want not”.
This one was a bit of a family joke but whenever anyone got something like a block of chocolate on their birthday that was always a chorus of, “You’ve got to share it” and we always did. We knew when the next birthday came around we’d enjoy another treat.
If we were eating and eating we’d be asked, “Have you got hollow legs?
When an answer was expected but wasn’t forthcoming we’d hear, “Has the cat got your tongue?”
If we were fighting we would be told, “If you can’t some something nice don’t say anything at all!”
I’m sure plenty of children were told, “Close your mouth or a fly will get in” when they were gaping at something.
At bedtime it was always,
“Night, night, sleep tight
Mind the bed bugs don’t bite.”
I was 24 years old and travelling overseas before I discovered just what bed bugs were and it was not a nice experience.