We try so hard to teach our children valuable lessons as they are growing up, sometimes forgetting how literally they take things. Sometimes these misinterpretations are funny. Sometimes they are sad.
Here are a few parental instructions that could easily be misconstrued by still-developing minds:
Don't pick your nose in public
Is it OK to pick it in private? What about my hiney? Can I scratch that? Can I ring my belly button?
You have it so much better than I did when I was a kid
(I walked to school uphill both ways in the snow without shoes carrying only cold oatmeal for my lunch). Did your daddy make you feel small and pathetic? I don't know if you realize the stress I'm under. It's not like your stress, but it's very real to me.
Look both ways before crossing the street
Are those ways up and down? Back and front? What exactly am I looking for?
Don't talk to strangers
Would that include Uncle Ed, because he's really, really strange! Does this mean people I don't know or people who are weird?
Don't punch your brother
But can I kick him or bite him? And what are the rules for my sister? Is there anyone I can punch? How about strangers? Or Uncle Ed? What about when you horse around with me?
Make sure to smile and say thank you
You tell me not to lie and then you tell me to thank her for getting me socks. I have socks. I wanted a Wii. So do I smile and thank her or tell the truth?
Don't get smart with me
You complain when I don't make good grades and then you tell me not to get smart. Which is it? I want to be smart, but I don't want to see you mad.
Stop crying or I'll give you a reason to cry
You already have. I am sad. What I need is a hug, to know that you still love me and to get some of this out of me. Crying helps me do that.
Clean that plate
See, now, you say that, but last time I picked it up and licked it with my tongue, you got mad. Do you want me to eat something even if it makes me sick? Do I have to eat if I'm full?
You are just like your mother/father
You say that like it's a bad thing. I think being like my mother/father is about the greatest thing I could be. But the way you say it, it feels wrong.
I'll think about it. Maybe
Why not, or thanks! (Depending on child and parent). Sometimes I wish you would just give me a "yes" or a "no" so I could get on with my life and make plans.
Just wait until your father gets home
I cannot possibly conceive of anything my father could do to me that is worse than knowing that you don't feel capable of handling me. Am I that bad?
Kids are not idiots, they just don't understand our idioms. Clear and concise questions and answers are best. They want to please. They just need to understand.