Mothers often find themselves saying the most unusual things to their children -- things that would never come up in adult conversation. Our mother language becomes so common and daily though, that we don't usually stand back and appreciate the hilarity that accompanies our work. This dawned on me last night as I called out the kitchen window with as much grace as I could muster, "Boys, let's not lie down in the street." Hmmm. What a strange thing to say. So I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and chronicled the next hour of impromptu mother-tongue:
"We shouldn't put paper towels in the toilet, dear."
"Did someone drop the computer?"
"Is this dirt or poop?"
"Have you been playing in the tar again?"
"Did you put the salad spinner on the tricycle?"
"Are you scratching your back with your bread?"
"Please don't rub the butter in your hair."
"You may not stab the table."
Oh, the delights of motherhood. But even more delightful are the little words that come back to us in these moments of living life. Words like, "This is just an eensy-weensy early Mother's Day gift for you," that announce the arrival of a lilac bouquet. Or "These are for you, Mom," as a boy's brown hands proudly shove forward the strawberry plants he selected with Daddy.
Sometimes the words that come back to us are so unexpected, though, that we wonder at the children before us. Such was the case this morning when, with burning curiosity, I brought up the subject of lying down in the street. I was indeed unprepared for the explanation: "We were trying to attract vultures, Mom." And what, pray tell, is a mother to do? Her busy tongue is suddenly tied, and she just laughs.