5+ Things My Kids Never Want to Hear Again

Parenting during the COVID-19 epidemic is an adventure, isn’t it? I’m sure my kids are going to grow up with a special appreciation for public gatherings and health & safety protocols. They’ll be able to lead a hell of a Zoom meeting. They will always remember this special, historic time we spent together.

They may also cringe and reach for their phones to dial their therapists anytime they hear one of the following phrases:

5. “Time to get off the Xbox and go outside!”

To be honest, for this one you don’t even need “…and go outside.” You can replace it with “for dinner” or “we’re doing a family art project” or “let’s FaceTime with Grandma.” No matter the context, the words “Get off the Xbox” (or iPad, or computer) always elicit the same automated response from my kids:

“One sec!”

When spoken by your offspring, this phrase has no meaning. They won’t remember it, or you, later. They don’t even know they’re saying it. The signal doesn’t make it past the medulla oblongata into the cognitive portions of the brain. It just pops out, an involuntary reflex.

Hunger = Eat
Hot Pan = Move Hand
“Time to…” = One Sec

As parents everywhere know, it will absolutely not be one sec. But we can say we tried.

4. “So many people are struggling right now. Let’s be grateful for what we have.”

Translation: QUIT WHINING and eat your bowl of olives and questionable applesauce from the back of the fridge. Let me know if you start hallucinating. It might count as art.

3. “You can watch TV, but it has to be something educational…”

This one elicits the most complaining and eye rolling. And the pre-pre-law arguments:

  • What’s the difference between watching a violent war movie and seals getting eaten by killer whales on NatGeo?
  • If we’re allowed to watch Wild Kratts during the school day, why can’t we watch Teen Titans GO? We totally learn from that. Remember the episode about personal finance?
  • Does “Nailed It!” count as educational since we’re learning what not to do when we bake?
  • Technically, all shows are educational if you haven’t seen them before…

You know what? Fine. I’m giving myself props that we made it through lunchtime without a major incident. Have at it, kids. Mom needs juice.

2. “Help me help you.”

Overheard coming out of my mouth more than once during our adventures in home schooling. File this one under Things I Never Thought I’d Say, along with “someday you’ll appreciate everything I’ve done for you,” and “Fine, go get yourself a life-threatening illness, see if I care!”

1. “Since you’re bored, can you do me a favor?”

Oh, they haaaaate this one. I keep a series of household tasks at the ready, ranging from sweep the floor to run upstairs and find my phone charger. As soon as some little person wanders up to me with nothing to do, I have an instant assistant.

One of these days they’re going to figure out that whatever they can do to entertain themselves is better than being Mommy’s indentured servants. TBH, I am going to miss this part of it when things are back to normal and I have to get my own damn water cup.

And…. a special bonus, THIS SONG.

Where has this song been all my parenting life? Okay, I’ll admit, I started out with the cutesy idea (early on) that this quarantine period would be a great opportunity to teach the kids some bonus skills. Tour museums virtually. Work on their Hebrew, throw in some Spanish…

Eh. Maybe.

The real value in this song is how much the kids hate it. It’s not hard to find music that one of the boys hates (The Frozen Soundtrack is for babies! I don’t want to listen to “Star Wars in 99 Seconds” for the 1000th time!). But in these cases, invariably one hates it because the other loves it, or one decides he loves it because of how much the other one hates it. Siblings.

But “Caminitio de la Escuela?” Universally hated. Worse if I dance around the kitchen while it’s playing. And because I’m a good enough parent to know how to use torture judiciously, I have it tucked into the “Good Morning” playlist I play on our biggest Echo speaker to get everyone out of bed on weekdays. I may even make them practice looking up Spanish words to translate it, one of those days they’re done with school before I’m done with my work for the day.

This is a small–but critical–exertion of my parental power, which counteracts the chaos that inevitably ensues when there’e a power vacuum. I also like that it sets the expectation that whatever schoolwork or chores or family activity comes next… it could always get worse.

Yep. “Caminito de la Escuela” has become the anthem for my parenting mind games. These are mad times we live in, friends. Mad times…

Happy Quarantining, Y’all!


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MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a distracted writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. She blogs erratically with writing advice, random observations, and reflections on raising very loud kids and dogs. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

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