“What are you doing?” I would ask my mother. “I’m sliding down hill on a pancake.” To this day, I’ve never heard any other mother use that phrase.
I often wonder if this was something that she made up or if her mother said it to her. I tried Googling the phrase and came up with pancake recipes and sliding down the stairs videos on You Tube.
My mother is no longer alive, so I can’t ask her, but I wonder how many phrases moms create in the hopes of diverting their childrens’ attention to finish that one last chore.
The great thing about this phrase is that it doesn’t answer the question with another question, like “What does it look like I’m doing?” When you answer a question with a question, you provoke more questions. Not what you want to do.
“Sliding down hill on a pancake” is simple, to the point and totally absurd and likely to irritate the heck out of your inquisitor. How do you respond to that? What does that mean?
As I got older, my mother reversed roles and started asking me the questions as every teen dreads. Her favorite was, “Is that what you’re wearing?” as I had one foot out the door. You’d think that I was wearing my pajamas, although acceptable nowadays, was not in the seventies.
So, I got to thinking. What phrase will my sons remember, besides, “I’ll give you something to fight about!” or “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Without a doubt, they will tell you what my standard response was when they asked me what was for dinner. “Anything you want!” At first they would get excited, but then they realized the true meaning: anything you wanted to make for yourself because mom just got home and was too damn tired to cook.
Looking back, I regret not planning better and making sure that we sat down to dinner every night, but if I had done that, my kids wouldn’t be able to write about their mom saying the darndest things.