Len Robbins


I’m getting old, but I haven’t forgotten my old hiding places.

I’ve had to revisit them this week, as the brood is back home and trampling all over each other. The forced “family time” also has us revisiting other things – like memories of odd declarations my wife and I have made over the years in the name of parenting.

Whether it’s a warning, a reaction, or a question, I have often found myself enunciating the most absurd things to my children – sentences and phrases perhaps never before strung together in the history of human language.

Sitting around the kitchen table the other night, my wife joined me in recounting the peculiar proclamations one of us has made around our household over the years. I’ll let you imagine the circumstance that provoked such utterances:

• “Put your brother back on the shelf.”

• “That alligator was not meant to be ridden down the stairs.”

• “Please don’t lick the paint brushes.”

• “Untie your brother from the garden hose.”

• “I wouldn’t worry too much about that. As a general rule, hobos don’t eat children.”

• “Stop chasing your mother with a dead lizard!”

• “Put your Daddy’s Mr. T doll back in its place before he notices it’s gone.”

• “I have a hard time believing that the dog painted its own toenails.”

• “No, you can’t wear your baseball uniform to church.”

• “Who tied the umbrella to the cat’s tail?”

• “If you don’t keep those frozen peas on your eye, I’m gonna give you a spanking!”

• “No, my golf handicap is not that I have a bad back.”

• “Yes, son, I knew Abraham Lincoln. He and I were college roommates.”

• “I don’t know what that school is teaching you, but beer and cocaine are not equal.”

• “Alright, have it your way. But when that lightning rod you concocted gets struck by lightning, don’t come crying to me.”

• “Please undo the leaf blower from your bicycle.”

• “I don’t care what he said. You can’t urinate on your brother.”

• “I know there are starving children in Africa, but that doesn’t mean you should walk up to somebody’s table at a restaurant and ask them, ‘Are you gonna eat that?’”

• “Why did you spell out your name in paint – incorrectly, I might add – on the passenger door of my car?”

• “Please don’t taunt the giraffe.”

• “Is there a black market for the thing that holds the batteries in the back of the remote control that I don’t know about? Is that how you get money for candy?”

• “Pickles are your Daddy’s Kryptonite.”

• “I know all there is to know about curse words, and trust me, there is no ‘Z word’.”

• “I don’t care what that kid at school said – Skittles are not vegetables.”

• “You better be out of that fireplace by the time I count to three.”

• “Pouring water down the vent won’t make the cat come out.”

That, I was wrong about. It did.

Hopefully, I’ll have some new absurd phrases to share (young adult version) in a couple of weeks (fingers crossed).

LEN ROBBINS’ syndicated newspaper column appears in more than 20 newspapers in the South. He and his wife and three children live in Homerville, Georgia (population: 2,890), next to the Okefenokee Swamp.

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