09 May Mother Tongue
Before children, my mother was an amateur actress. After parenthood, she poured all her dramatic skills into reading us stories. She provided distinct voices for each character, made sound effects and sometimes included flamboyant gestures. She was a tough act to follow. When my less-than-theatrical father read us Winnie the Pooh he wasn’t met with gratitude but a chorus of “That’s not how Mom reads it!”
When she wasn’t reading us poetry or classic children’s literature, she expanded our vocabulary with colourful non-curses. We knew Mom was really angry when she pulled out the phrase, “Son of a Siberian Basket Weaver!” Silly people were dismissed as “Stoopnagles” and when someone was too scruffy for her tastes, she described them as looking like “5 cents worth of God-help-us going somewhere to happen.”
Nothing unsavory ever hit the fan, but when things got out of control, she would threaten to have “a full bore lateral panic,” which sounded so ominous we’d settle right down. And if we pushed too far? Well, you could just “Go fluff you duffer up a gum tree.”
This blog might focus on food, but it’s more than a recipe repository thanks in part to my mother’s flair for the dramatic and imaginative wordsmithing. Got any colourful family phrases you can share on a G-rated blog? Or am I barking up the wrong gum tree?