Yesterday I dropped a spool of thread and it rolled under the table. As I crawled on all fours to reach it, I suddenly heard my mother’s voice say to me “Pick that up for me please. You are built nearer the ground!” Immediately I was back in childhood. How many times had I heard my mother say that? One of the last times was to my eldest niece. No doubt the phrase came out automatically, because we all burst out laughing. My niece at that stage was much taller than her Nana.
I stayed sitting under the table for a few minutes letting the memories of my mother’s voice flood around me. “Take those shoes off coming down the stairs.” This was something repeated to me on many occasions. As a child I liked to play ‘dressing up’ and danced about the house in a long trailing dress of my mothers, long necklaces, a hat, handbag and to finish it off a pair of high heeled shoes. The shoes were far too big for me so I ‘clackity clacked’ about the bedrooms in her shoes. As I reached the top of the stairs her voice rang out “Take those shoes off coming down the stairs.” She worried because our stairs turned 45º just three steps from the top. There were three steps on the curve of the bend and they were wide along the wall and narrowed to a point on the balustrade side. A tumble or two taught me to pay heed to my mother’s words.
It made me think of all those phrases our mothers used and that we in turn repeated to our children.
I know what you are up to I have eyes in the back of my head.
Go play outside! It’s a beautiful day!
Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.
How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tasted it?
How many times do I have to tell you?
It’s like talking to a brick wall?
Go ask your father
Are you going out dressed like that?
Then we have the ‘Did’s, Do’s and Don’t’s’:
Did you clean your room?
Did you comb your hair?
Did you brush your teeth?
Did you flush?
Do you think I’m made of money?
Do you think this is a hotel?
Do you think your socks are going to pick themselves up?
Do as I say, not as I do.
Don’t talk with your mouth full!
Don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been
Don’t you have anything better to do?
Don’t go out with wet hair, you’ll catch cold
But the one that will haunt Elly, I think will be:
Can you bring me XXXX you will find it under the stairs?
Again this is a phrase my mother used many a time as that was where she stored lots of household items. For Elly the problem when I said it was that we lived in a bungalow. Bright girl that she is she soon learned that ‘under the stairs’ was really the second cupboard on the left in the hall!