“Don’t Slam the Screen Door!” And Other Words of Wisdom

Posted July 7, 2008 by

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This weekend I found myself repeating my mother’s words, who no doubt repeated her mother’s words, who no doubt was repeating the ancient wisdom of all the mothers before her. My litany went something like this:  “Get dressed, brush your teeth, clean up your room, wipe your shoes, don’t let the screen door slam shut (slam!) behind you!” ( Cavewomen  didn’t have screen doors, but I’m sure they said something along the lines of, “Don’t let the sabertooth skin flap into the fire” when their kids ran by.)

I’m not sure when it happens, but at some point you do pick up this nearly automatic mantra of do’s and don’t’s for your kids.  A daily “do” for us is: “Clean your room, please.” (Hours go by.) “Have you cleaned your room?” (It’s getting darker outside.)  And then, “OK, no ice cream until you clean your room.” (This works well.) And in the “don’t” column, yesterday was particularly rich:  “Don’t take your clothes off in the neighbors’ yard.” (That was after my husband, our visiting friends and I caught a glimpse of our five-year-old jumping up and down behind the neighbors’ bushes, joyously shouting, “I’m naked! I’m naked!” Fortunately for us, he was strategically blocked by the hedge…for a few minutes, anyway.)

Yes, we had a good holiday weekend.

At any rate, all of this reminded me of Anita Renfroe, the woman who set all this mother-wisdom to music. If you haven’t seen “The Mom Song” yet, check it out. (What a mom says in 24 hours, condensed into 3 minutes.) If you have seen it, you might want to watch again, just for the empathetic laughter–more than 15 million people worldwide have viewed it on Youtube since this video was first posted.


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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