Our 11 year old nephew just finished up his vacation staying with us for the last two and a half weeks. I’m pretty sure he had a blast, but he was a little confused by us more than a few times. Turns out we have “family-isms” which I think most of us do have but don’t realize. I didn’t realize until I saw the confused look on my nephew’s face and heard him ask, “What do you guys mean when you say that?” What’s a family-ism? It’s a phrase your family throws out to each other, and the family all knows exactly the message being conveyed with a few words.
For instance, while my two boys were in heated debate about something or other, my oldest screamed out to his brother, “I know my truth!” and stormed off. My nephew was confused. Yes, we borrowed the line from Couples Retreat. My husband has long told my boys to know their truths. But what my oldest was saying was that it doesn’t matter what is said, he has his own understanding of the situation and it is what he is going to believe. We usually use this line when someone is making fun of one of us, stating that it doesn’t matter what someone else says about us, we know what is true about us. The boys have clearly adapted this phrase into broader applications.
Along the same lines, my youngest can be heard (often) yelling at his brother, “I give your words no power.” My nephew actually asked #2 what he was talking about, and my 7 year old calmly explained that “words only have power if you give it to them.” Granted, I might argue that since he was yelling back to his brother perhaps the words had been given power, but I liked where his head was at and I wasn’t going to derail him.
While practicing soccer drills when Coach asked what “practice makes…” my boys answered “better”, after drills my nephew asked why they didn’t say “perfect” and he got an earful from both my boys about how LeBron and Curry still need to practice every day regardless of how good they are. My #1 momentarily spouted poetic when he said “perfect is a moment, practice is……everyday”, maybe we can wordsmith that one a little bit, his long pause probably indicates he wanted a different word than “everyday”. Regardless I loved the message they have received and were actively communicating. (p.s. My #1 was thrilled beyond belief to show me an advertisement that said, “Practice Makes Prepared” with one of his favorite soccer players Alex Morgan in it! He may start saying this family-ism differently now.)
Last but certainly not all or least, when my boys were young they equated good decision making with the wise and famed Jedi Master Yoda. My husband and I would often ask the boys if they were making a decision that Yoda would make, i.e. was it a good decision or a bad decision. Over time perhaps slightly blasphemous, this has turned into a “what would Yoda do” question. This family-ism when used in public often raises eyebrows. Eyebrow raises or not, this question has worked well for our family, especially as our boys have aged and their grasp that usually it isn’t one single decision but a series of decisions that lead us down different life paths has grown.
The messages aren’t unique but perhaps the way my children convey them is slightly unconventional, and it certainly did confuse our nephew these last few weeks. So what are your family-isms? We all have our own family dialog; I’d love to hear some of yours.
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