For the many that only know me from the blog or from the MFW FB page, what you might not know is that I have a deep well of snark. I try to keep it under control when I am writing as sarcasm and snark don’t always play well in writing.  You have to be able to see my face, hear my tone and be able to judge my relative sincerity.  Those that have heard me speak at conventions have been able to see this in me.  Sarcasm, irony and snark are my love languages.  Okay, not meanly.  Being mean is never going to be right. As my kids became pre-teens and teens this also became one of my best tools to both keep situations light and funny but also able to get my point across to my kids. I find funny is a powerful tool to keep tempers and emotions in check in both the kids and in myself.  Now, I only have to start these phrases and my kids finish them for me and check and change their attitudes.  Occasionally, they spout them back at me and I have to check my attitude.

1. “Change your face!” This gem was given to me by a Pastor at our church.  His Mom used to say it to him whenever his attitude started showing in his face.  Kid disgusted by the dinner served at Grandma’s house? A quick, ” Change your face” is highly effective.  Your teen rolling their eyes at you?  Give them a warning to change their face. Someone saying something dumb about homeschooling? Your kids remind you to change YOUR face.  

2. “ Really? That’s what you want to go with?” This phrase became almost a daily occurrence when Caileigh was struggling in later elementary with telling the truth. We had laid down the consequences, lying got you 4x the punishment of the original infraction.  It also meant you went nowhere and spent ALL your time right next to Mom.  If I couldn’t trust you to be away from me, then you got to be right by me and do everything I did.  All the dishes, cleaning, chores that I did plus outside activities were cancelled until you proved that you were trustworthy.  Caileigh needed a little grace and a little helpful reminder when it was obvious that she wasn’t telling the complete truth.  I would say this once and only once to give her a chance to do the right thing. Now, it’s used in our home as a funny way to say, “You are digging yourselves a pretty deep hole that you never are going to get out of”.  This was especially helpful with younger teen boys during puberty because they said the dumbest things and needed to think through what they were actually saying.

3. “Life is tough. Life is tougher when you’re stupid.” – John Wayne.  When I first came across this quote, I absolutely howled.  It was funny and so very true. My beloved Grandpa watched all the John Wayne movies with me and in my mind was John Wayne.  He even looked liked John Wayne and spoke like John Wayne and I could just hear him saying it to me. I read it to my kids and gave them some personal examples of when I made my life so much harder because I was making poor choices. The Bible has several examples.  Samson is a perfect example of this.  He knew the right thing to do and did the exact opposite and it made his life sooooo much harder. So whenever I see my kids headed down a path that is going to cause them trouble I just say, “Life is tough. Life is tougher…” and they generally fill in the rest of the phrase and my adorable 5 year old niece says, ” We don’t say stupid!”.  It is the perfect way to remind them that they are making their own life so much harder because of a unwise choice.  

4. “Know where you are going or you’ll end up somewhere else” – Yogi Berra. My StepMom used to say this to me all the time and it made me crazy but it’s so true.  If you don’t have a goal and a plan then you are never going to get where you want to go. The Bible says that, ” The noble make noble plans and by noble deeds they stand” Isaiah 32:8. If God has led you to homeschool, then make goals, plans and get it done.  In our home we encourage our kids to pray big, dream big and once you think God has said yes, then you step in, make a plan with achievable goals and get it done.  I have been floored by the things my kids have accomplished, they are scary big. They prayed about them, stepped in and we made a plan with achieveable goals and they have done everything from raising a large amount of money to feed kids in Ethiopia, to speaking at a MIT convention in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Boston, become the Rising Stars for their Robotics team, do two years of math in a year to catch up,  have our entire block donate food for a food drive at church or raise enough money for our family to go on a missions trip – twice. They don’t think that its impossible, they know that God wants them to make the world a better place and they make a plan and make it happen.  They humble and challenge me. 

5. “Your maid doesn’t live here.” We keep a pretty clean house with daily chores, daily 15 minute clean ups but everyone is supposed to clean up after themselves.  If you grab a snack, fine, but clean the kitchen after yourself.  Don’t leave your stuff lying around period end of discussion.  For some strange reason my kids forget these rules and occasionally I have to pull out this phrase.  I say it and point to the mess.  If it isn’t cleaned up immediately, then we have an obedience issue and no one wants that.  There have been times when this got bad enough that I started charging them, because a maid should be paid. Then they had to do chores like scooping poop, pulling weeds etc to make extra money so that you could pay me.  This generally stopped that behavior for 3 mos or so and then we had to retrain. 

I didn’t ever use these phrases with younger kids as they need black and white, yes or no’s.  They need to know the rules and follow the rules in those younger years.  Towards those middle school and high school years, I moved to more of a coaching role versus an absolute monarchy.  These are also most effective with kids who know the right thing to do and have been trained in obedience.  They just need reminders not training. 

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