As a parent you get used to hearing the same things over and over. This is in part because you repeat yourself so much, since children don’t hear anything unless you’ve said it three times. It’s also because kids — at least the ones I gave birth to — ask the same questions and parrot the same phrases every. damn. day.
Son: Mom, why did you just say ‘Jesus’?
Me (cringing): I was praying.
Son: You pray a lot when you’re driving.
Daughter (nodding): You do. You do pray a lot when you’re driving.
But the fun part of parenting is when your children say things you know you’ve heard before, just not from them.
Tell me I’m not alone in this.
Because so far I’ve pinpointed two famous comedians my children are channeling without even knowing it. How awesome is that?
I first noticed it when my son began starting every sentence with, “Remember back when…?” This in itself was amusing because he was only 5 at the time. It got even better when he would take a protracted stroll down memory lane, only to arrive at a non-conclusion:
Son: Remember when we went to see Nana and Papa?
Son: And we had to sleep at a hotel on our way there?
Son: And there was dead cockroach in our room?
Me: Half a roach, but yes.
Son: And when we got to Nana’s, Nana told us we could go swimming?
Me: Um hmm.
Son: And we went swimming?
Son: That was cool.
Tell me you know where I’m going with this.
Back in the ‘90s (I can’t believe I just said that), Chris Farley had a talk show on Saturday Night Live, in which he would do the same thing with his celebrity guests:
Chris (interviewing Jeff Daniels): You were in Purple Rose of Cairo. Remember when you were doing your movie and Mia Farrow was watching and then you came down off the screen and talked to her? And you were in black and white when you were on the screen but when you talked to her you were in color?
Jeff: Yeah, what about it?
Chris: You remember that?
Chris: That was awesome.
Or, my personal favorite:
Chris (interviewing Paul McCartney): Remember when you were with the Beatles?
Chris: That was awesome.
Even better than this is when my daughter channels the great Steve Martin, something that happens on those admittedly rare nights she doesn’t want to go to bed.
Me: Time for bed.
She picks up her stuffed lion and goes to bed.
On the occasional night when she’s cranky, has had a bad day, or is coming down with something:
Me: Time for bed!
Daughter (sobbing): Noooooooo.
Me: Sorry, sweetie, but it’s time to go to sleep.
Daughter: Okay, fine, fine.
Me: Do you want Lion?
Daughter: No! (Looking around.) I just want this. (Picks up a Lego figurine.)
Daughter: And this. (Scoops up a novelty straw she was playing as a flute earlier.) And this. (Snatches a paper napkin.) And this. (Scoops up a marble.) And this….
Which is how her bed ends up looking like this some mornings:
Now, in The Jerk, Steve Martin’s character does the EXACT SAME THING. When he finds out he’s gone from rags to riches and back to rags again, he shuffles tearfully through his mansion telling his wife:
“I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff. I don’t need you, I don’t need anything. Except this. (He picks up an ashtray.) I don’t anything except this ashtray. And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this. The remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game and the remote control and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, these matches and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game, the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need, too. I don’t need one other thing. Not one — I need this. The paddle game and the chair. What are you looking at? What do you think I am, some kind of a jerk or something? And this. This magazine…”
I know, I know, it’s UNCANNY.
The best part is, my kids are still pretty young. Who knows who they’ll start channeling next.
When my daughter was three or four I was reading the Bible to her and spoke the phrase “everlasting chains.” She interjected something she’d heard from VP Biden: “They gonna put y’all BACK in chains.”