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Things Our Mama's Said


We all remember things our mother's used to say. These sayings have been around since the beginning of time, and much to our chagrin, we hear ourselves repeating some of them. Do you remember these? I do!

Mama's Book of Manners

  • Say please.
  • Say thank you.
  • What do you say, Margaret?
  • Say "Pass the butter...Pleeeaaase."
  • If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
  • Did it ever occur to you to say thank you (or please)?
  • Cover your mouth when you cough (or sneeze).
  • Let your sister have a turn.
  • Share!!!
  • Say you're sorry.
  • I don't care if you're not sorry, say it anyway.
  • Say excuse me when you burp.
  • Act like a lady.
  • Act like a gentleman.
  • Mind your manners.
  • Cross your legs and sit like a lady.
  • Mind your own business.
  • Mind your own beeswax.

Mama's Medical Advice

  • Don't pick at it, it will get infected.
  • If you keep crossing your eyes they'll stay that way.
  • Don't crack your knuckles like that, they'll get arthritis when you grow up.
  • Don't slouch, you're back will stay that way.
  • Blow your nose.
  • Use a kleenex, not your sleeve.
  • Don't come crying to me if you kill yourself doing that.
  • If you look into the sun you'll go blind.
  • You need to move your bowels.
  • Did you have a movement yet today?
  • If you quit eating chocolate (greasy foods), you won't have acne.
  • It's just a scratch.
  • Don't sit to close to the TV, you'll ruin your eyes.
  • If you go to bed with wet hair you'll catch a cold.
  • Don't suck your thumb, you'll get buck teeth.
  • Want Mommy to kiss it?
  • How do you expect me to help you if you don't sit still?
  • There, there, all better. Go back and play.
  • What were you thinking?
  • Did you ever hear of toothpaste (deodorant, toilet paper)?

For Hiccups:

  • Eat a spoon full of sugar.
  • Boo! (that was supposed to startle the hiccups out of us).
  • Hold your breath.
  • Blow into a bag.
  • Drink cold water.

Mama's Scoldings

  • I'll give you something to cry about.
  • Wait until your father gets home.
  • I'm going to count to three.
  • I'm going to count to three again.
  • I hope you grow up and have kids just like you.
  • If you're going to do that, do it outside.
  • Don't you give me that.
  • Don't get smart with me, young lady.
  • If you think you're going to get away with that you have another thing coming.
  • Don't even think of it.
  • You step one toe over this line and you're going to get it.
  • I told you not to step over the line or you'd get it. Now I'm telling you one more time, don't do it again.
  • What did you call me?
  • I'd like to hear you say that again.
  • Just try it and see what happens.
  • Do you want a spanking? (what child ever answered in the affirmative)
  • You think you hate me now, just wait till I...
  • Bite your tongue missy.
  • If you guys don't stop fighting I'm calling the police (or FBI)
  • If you say that again I'll wash your mouth out with soap (hot sauce).
  • Nice young ladies don't talk like that.
  • What would grandma think if she saw or heard you do that?
  • God sees everything you do. Do you want him to see that?
"Don't you get smart with me, young lady."

"Don't you get smart with me, young lady."

We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up."

— Phyllis Diller

Mama's Litany of Table Manners

  • Finish your plate, there are starving people in Africa.
  • Don't eat with your mouth full.
  • Don't burp at the table.
  • Elbows off the table.
  • Use your napkin, not your sleeve.
  • Don't slurp (smack your lips, gulp your drink)
  • No dinner, no dessert.
  • If you don't have room for peas, you don't have room for dessert.
  • Clean your plate.
  • You may be excused.
  • Eat it, it's good for you.
  • Someday you'll learn to like it.
  • It's an acquired taste, keep trying.
  • Just take two more bites.
  • If you don't eat your vegetables you'll get scurvy
  • Eat your carrots, they're good for your eyes.
  • Eat your liver, it's full of iron.
  • Eat your spinach, it's good for your bowels.
  • You will eat it and you will like it.
  • Your sister likes it don't you Stella?
  • What do you mean you don't like spinach? When I was a kid, I ate it every day.
  • Don't throw out that green bean, I can use it for something.
"Elbows off the table."

"Elbows off the table."

Mama's Answers to Peer Relationships

  • If they told you to jump off a bridge (or a cliff) would you do it?
  • I don't care if everyone else is doing it.
  • I don't care if Suzie's mom lets her. I'm not Suzie's mother.
  • Everyone else's parents do not let their kids do it.
  • Don't be a fair-weather friend.
  • Be a good example and they will follow you instead.
  • Why don't you be more like so and so? She seems like a nice girl.
  • We never did those things when I was growing up.
  • You are supposed to learn from my mistakes, not copy them.
  • Just tell them stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Then they'll leave you alone.
  • If you laugh at yourself, they'll laugh with you, not at you.
  • Don't believe everything you hear.
  • Don't let them talk you into anything.
  • You have a mind of your own, why did you listen to them?
  • You can't tell a book by its cover.
  • They're just saying that because they're jealous.
  • They don't mean what they're saying, they're just scared.
  • Give it right back to 'em.
  • Don't let them talk to you that way.
  • You just hold your head up high and never mind what everyone's saying.
  • You're the better person.
  • Someday, they'll be coming to you for ...
  • Someday they'll remember what they said and feel bad.
"If your friends told you to jump of a bridge would you do it?"

"If your friends told you to jump of a bridge would you do it?"

Mama on Family Dynamics

  • You're just like your father/mother/sister/brother.
  • Why can't you be more like your father/mother/sister/brother.
  • You don't see your father and I do that do you?
  • You can do that when you're a mother/father.
  • You have your grandmother's hips (or another body part).
  • Tell Grandma you like her meatloaf, even if you don't.
  • What if your sister got sick or died, wouldn't you feel bad?
  • I don't care if it's yours, just give it to him.
  • Ask your father.
  • Tell your father I said to ask him.
  • Tell your father I'm not speaking to him.
  • Daddy (Grandma/Grandpa) doesn't know any better.
  • You kids should know better.
  • Daddy/grandma/grandpa doesn't mean what they say. They're just teasing (or upset)
  • You're your father's daughter/son all right.
  • Don't make the same mistakes he/she did.
  • Don't do as I do, do as I say.

Traveling With Mama

  • Quit kicking the back of the seat.
  • Do I have to stop the car?
  • Quick touching your sister.
  • You just went to the bathroom.
  • Why didn't you go when we were at the gas station?
  • You're going to get it when we get home.
  • If you're bored, count the trees.
  • When the cop gets to the window, keep your mouths shut.
  • Did you see that blankety-blank cut me off? You didn't hear those words, so don't repeat them.
  • Get your head (or arm) back in the window, you'll get it cut off.
  • Don't tell Daddy I got a ticket.
  • Quit bouncing on the seat.
"Don't tell Daddy I got a ticket."

"Don't tell Daddy I got a ticket."

Mama's Ideas on Conflict Resolution

  • As long as you live under my roof...
  • Life is never fair.
  • Mind your P's and Q's.
  • If you don't like it, go live somewhere else.
  • Twenty years from now, who's going to remember (or care)?
  • Don't you roll your eyes at me.
  • It's for your own good.
  • This hurts me more than it hurts you.
  • When you move out you can do whatever you want, but while you're living in this house, I make the rules.
  • Because I said so.
  • Uh, excuse me, I'm the mother here.
  • I didn't ask for your opinion.
  • If I want your advice, I'll ask for it.
  • You don't need to know why, just do it.
  • Close your mouth and tell me what happened.
  • And wipe that smile off your face.
  • Someday you'll thank me for this.
  • You made your bed now lie in it.
  • If you hit her again I'll smack (spank) you.
  • I'm sure he didn't mean it.
  • You didn't mean it, did you, Mary?

Mama's Rants on Dirt, Messes, and Germs

  • This room looks like a pigsty.
  • This room looks like a tornado went through it.
  • Do you call this clean?
  • Look at this filth.
  • Put it back where you got it or where it belongs.
  • You're grounded until this room is clean.
  • No meals until this room is clean.
  • Is it too much to ask for you to make your bed?
  • How can you find anything in this mess?
  • The towel doesn't belong on the floor. Hang it up.
  • Is it too much to ask you to flush the toilet?
  • I can give you something to do if you're bored. The floor needs sweeping, the laundry needs folding...
  • Don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where it's been.
  • Did you flush?
  • Don't eat that, you'll get worms.
  • If I see this laying on the floor one more time it's going in the garbage.
  • Pick that up before somebody trips on it and breaks their neck!
  • Do you think your socks are going to pick themselves up?
"Look at this filth."

"Look at this filth."

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Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble."

— Dennis Fakes

I love it when mothers get so mad they can't remember your name. "Come here, Roy, er, Rupert, er, Rutabaga... what is your name, boy? And don't lie to me, because you live here, and I'll find out who you are."

— Bill Cosby

Mama 's School of Beauty

  • You can't go out looking like that, what if someone I know sees you?
  • Pull down your skirt.
  • Tuck in your blouse.
  • Tie (or buckle) your shoes.
  • Pull up your socks.
  • You're not going out looking like that.
  • Those socks don't match.
  • Put on clean underwear, you might get into an accident.
  • Put your coat on, you'll catch pneumonia.
  • Put your coat on and no one will notice.
  • Put on a coat, I'm cold.
  • It looks fine on you, really.
  • Try on Grandma's dress, her styles are timeless.
  • Nobody will notice.
  • It's just for one day, who's going to remember anyway?
  • You'll fill out.
  • You don't need darts yet.
  • You're not going out in that, are you?
  • Here, why don't you borrow my skirt?
  • It's your inner beauty that counts.
  • Unless you want to buy it yourself, you'll have to suffice with this.
Don't worry Suzie, it's the same stuff they use at the beauty parlor.

Don't worry Suzie, it's the same stuff they use at the beauty parlor.

Mama's Rules on Grooming and Hygiene

  • You'd look so pretty if you cut your hair (or pulled your hair back).
  • You'll look really pretty as soon as your acne clears up.
  • Just put a little Clearasil on it and no one will notice it.
  • (Brushing out tangles) Quit crying, it's not my fault you slept with gum in your mouth.
  • Clean behind your ears.
  • Clean the potatoes out of your ears.
  • Wash your feet, they stink.
  • You smell like B.O. go back and use soap.
  • Wash your hands, it's time for supper.
  • You never know where those hands have been.
  • Don't forget to wipe.
  • Go back and wash them again.
  • You call those hands clean?
  • Just comb it over a bit and no one will notice.
  • Why don't you get your hair styled like Aunt Sue?
  • Go back and put on some deodorant.
  • Who's been into my makeup?
  • I'll give you a perm. I've done it before.

Mama's Guide on Sex and Dating

  • Boys only want one thing.
  • You don't have to have sex to get pregnant.
  • I never kissed a boy until I married your father.
  • You're not wearing that on your date, he'll think you're advertising.
  • Don't kiss on the first date, he'll think you're easy.
  • If you respect yourself, he'll respect you (this is a good one that I pass on).
  • Have him come talk to your father.
  • Have him come to the door and meet us.
  • Call us every hour.
  • (To the boy) Her curfew is 8:00.
  • My mom only let me stay out until 7:30
  • Nice girls don't call boys.
  • A nice boy will open the door for you.
  • Don't dance too close. Boys get excited you know.

Everyone is guilty at one time or another of throwing out questions that beg to be ignored, but mothers seem to have a market on the supply. "Do you want a spanking or do you want to go to bed?" Don't you want to save some of the pizza for your brother?" Wasn't there any change?"

— Erma Bombeck

Mama's Answers to Our Excuses

  • Is your arm broke? Then get to work.
  • What's the matter, are you crippled?
  • Well, if you are too sick to work, eat, go to school, then you're sick enough to be in bed.
  • You weren't too tired to talk on the phone a minute ago.
  • If you're so tired, go lie down.
  • How long does it take you to ask your friend a question on the phone?
  • That was the longest minute I've ever seen.
  • Ask for help if you can't do it alone.
  • Where I have I heard that one before?
  • That's what you said last time.
  • That's what you always say.
  • You think I just woke up yesterday?
  • You honestly expect me to believe that?
Sometimes Mama's are a force to be reckoned with.

Sometimes Mama's are a force to be reckoned with.

Everything Your Mama Every Told You In Two Minutes

© 2011 Lori Colbo


Lori Colbo (author) from United States on July 20, 2013:

Glad you enjoyed this Cleaner and Rosemay. I wonder what our kids hear us saying to them.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on July 20, 2013:

Love this hub, brought so many memories and chuckles. A fun read.

We used to get'if you don't eat your tea you'll get it for breakfast'

When I told my daughter not to tell daddy I bumped the car, first thing she said when we got home was 'Mummy didn't bump the car daddy' gotta love em aye :))

Thank you for the chuckles

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on July 19, 2013:

you have hit the bullseye with these funny sayings .. as a boy my mom said so many of these things that I could recite them with my eyes closed .. great hub Lambservant..


Lori Colbo (author) from United States on July 19, 2013:

Actually Jackie you are right on my mother's count, but I had a great Aunt who said that kind of stuff and when I looked in all the little containers in her fridge my comment was not too far off the mark. Thanks for stopping by.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 18, 2013:

Well that was fun and I have heard most of them. I think you are lying about the green bean though, lol.

Ann810 from Sunny Cali on July 05, 2012:

Hi, my mom said many of these saying. I like when moms say "if you keep frowning your face will get stuck like that." This hub is very unique and cute, voted up.

mljdgulley354 on December 31, 2011:

Lambservant this was great and brought back so many more memories. I have to send this to my kids. They think they were the only ones to hear sayings like this. HaHa

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on November 30, 2011:

Thanks for your comments xethonxq, imagine what are children could write about us.

xethonxq on November 30, 2011:

OMG....I was laughing my butt off reading this. I swear to God, your mom was my mom. So many of the things you wrote came right out of my mother's mouth as I was growing up too. This was great!! It really took me back to my childhood!! Thanks lambservant!

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on November 30, 2011:

I think that's why this piece got so many viewers. We can all relate. Thanks for stopping by pennies

pennyofheaven from New Zealand on November 30, 2011:

Wow fond, fond memories. Made me laugh remembering. Seems Mamas favorite sayings are universal!

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on November 29, 2011:

Thank you HB, my mother and grandmother made all our clothes and often dressed us just alike. This was our Sunday go to meetin' day. We were cute weren't we.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 29, 2011:

I also meant to say that I love the photograph. Your mother is lovely and you girls are so sweet in those frocks and hats.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on November 29, 2011:

Thank you FF and Epigram man, this was indeed a fun labor of love. Mom's are very special. My son read this hub and reminded me that I used to joke, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out." I got that from Bill Cosby, a very insightful man when it comes to being a parent. Blessings to you one and all.

femmeflashpoint on November 29, 2011:


Can you hear me laughing? I promise I am! LOL!

This was superb!!!!

Voted up across the board!!!

epigramman on November 29, 2011:

..well this just may be the ultimate mama's hub of all time - certainly I was blessed in my lifetime with having a wonderful mum and my best friend too (as was my dad) so in respect to you for this heartfelt presentation and labor of love I will post THINGS MY MAMA SAID to my Facebook page with a direct link back here.

lake erie time ontario canada 2:22pm so very nice to meet you and yes we on the verge of winter here by the lake and although it's raining today it could be snow by tomorrow

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 29, 2011:


I know there's no way it's possible, but it sounds like you and me had the same mother! Boy, do I remember some of those lines.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 29, 2011:

I love this 1000 times 1000. I laughed out loud and it makes me nostalgic. So many of these are very familiar to me and either I or my Mom said them. This should be a Hub of the Day!

Kristen Burns-Darling from Orange County, California on November 28, 2011:

My Mama died when I was eleven, but a lot of these still ring true in my memory, (and I must confess, probably in my own children's memory), but my Daddy used a lot of these as well, (and a few more, such as; "Rights? Who told you that you had rights? They lied, because as long as you are under the age of 18, you are living under my roof, and I am paying your bills, the only right you have is to do as you are told." Smiled and chuckled through that whole list...Voted up, useful, and interesting

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on November 28, 2011:

"Wish my Mama were still here to read it."

Our mamas are always here, lambservant.


Joseph De Cross from New York on November 28, 2011:

Nice phrases! Loved the pics and the long..long subhubs!

Voted up!

shea duane from new jersey on November 28, 2011:

Oh, she knows...

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on November 28, 2011:

Thank you Shea and Will. Quite entertaining piece to write. Wish my Mama were still here to read it.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on November 28, 2011:

Great stuff! I loved it, and voted that way!

Really good, lambservant!

shea duane from new jersey on November 28, 2011:

Soooo funny and brought back so many memories! My favorite is always, Stop crying or i'll give you something to cry about!

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