Names My Mother Called Us

My mother is a lunatic. And I am just like her.


These are both facts that I’ve known for quite some time now. Since becoming a mother myself, I’ve found that these two facts have been reinforced to me over and over and over again.


Take, for example, the fact that I currently only have one child. I somehow still manage to call Maggie by the wrong name. When I was growing up – heck, even to this day – my mom couldn’t seem to get all of her kids straight. Aside from calling us by our siblings’ names, the pets names would sometimes slip in there, too.


In her defense, though, most of our pets did have human-like names, like Cassie (best cat on the planet), Annie (red-colored rescued dog…get it?), and Sophie (the Christmas kitten, which is a story for another blog). I’m not sure what it says about me that I sometimes refer to my child as, “Banjo”. Sheesh. I’m looking forward to Baby Lily getting here just so I have another human name to throw into the mix.


The other thing I’ve really noticed myself doing lately is using the same bizarre terms to describe or deal with my daughter’s bad behavior. I’ve also noticed people looking at me strangely when I use such terms. I’m telling you, these are weird things to call your child. However, in the heat of the moment, I’m sure they were preferable to the things that my mother would’ve preferred to call us. Like the time I used scissors to cut tiny holes in the arm of her new chair.


  • dog butt – Yes, I’m serious. You can ask any of her former students on this, too. Many an adolescent has been told to, “get in here, get to work, and stop being a dog butt,” by my mother.
  • dog breath – Along the same lines, but nowhere near as serious as being called the butt.
  • pill or pill pot – This is used for when your child is being, well, a pill. Or a brat, or whatever.
  • rat fink – This one is my favorite and the one I’ve been currently using on Mags. Any parent of a two or three-year-old would probably agree with me that, at times, their little darling is, indeed, a rat fink. It’s a fact of life; people just don’t know the proper terminology to describe it.
  • rat’s rear – This was more of a phrase, really. As in, “I don’t give a rat’s rear, get in there and practice the piano!” Can you tell she was constantly having to tell people to “get in here” or “get in there”?
  • While we’re on the subject of phrases, we were also threatened at times to be spanked “within an inch of our lives” (which never happened) or “smacked into the middle of next week” (which also never happened). Though we were spanked on occasion, my mother preferred more creative punishments, like having us pick up rocks and sticks from the yard or picking tomato worms off of plants in the garden, or driving for weeks on end to look at a billion antique stores in Oklahoma. I might be blurring the line between actual punishment and activities that merely felt like punishment, but who can really be sure?

I’m sure that, one day, my daughters will be having conversations about how insane I am and was when they were growing up. And, you know what? I’m not one bit sorry about that. After all, mama’s have to do something to release frustration and preserve what little remains of their sanity. And, for the record, I’d like to submit that I am proud to be carrying on such a fine lineage of weird name calling. I learned from the best.

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