A big ‘Momism’ (and believe me, she held a sackful) was you just never know, a phrase that could simultaneously prove ominous and helpful.
You just never know was applied to a range of incidents:
1. When the neighbors called to report I had been observed 4 fencelines away – a record for this small child – and had picked a buncha vegetables from their garden and was sitting calmly on a small blankie I’d evidently toted along to give myself and my stuffed Wabbit a cozy place for an impromptu picnic.
2. As a response to our landlady, who lived in an in-law apartment in our garage, when I went missing for hours only to be discovered (via muffled giggling) at the top of a MOUNTAIN of furniture she’d literally stacked to the ceiling and covered with old bedspreads in a creation which either could be viewed as (the more mundane) ‘storage’ or (the more exciting) culmination of my ‘king of the castle’ hide ‘n seek game. Which apparently the Adults in my life had no idea they actually were playing. Which made it even MORE fun. (Especially as NOBODY had hitherto realized that a small precocious child could actually hide at the top of a precarious furniture stack via the all-too-accessible half-bathroom next door, a toilet seat ‘down’, and a BIG jump and pull-up to the small non-glassed window that led directly out onto the stack.)
3. Explanation to my father when for 2 weeks in a row he arrived home to find I had been banished ‘to my room’ to ‘think about it’. ‘It’ being so vaguely undefined that I chose a reading adventure over sulking and was always happily immersed in a book when Mom’s ‘punishment is over’ bell rang. So my response to an invitation to re-join Mom’s world at least half the time was met with the ever-more-puzzling (to her) non-Doctor-Spock response (from behind a closed door): “CAN’T come out. STILL THINKING ABOUT’ IT’.”(i.e. I hadn’t gotten to the end of my book yet!)
4. An invitation to explain the apparent spontaneous combustion of an overhead light fixture in my bedroom during playtime quickly led to the implication of Soft Bunny in the matter and the quick hiding of my admittedly more-favorite Wooden Shoelace-Teaching Shoe Toy. (Something my mother totally saw through, for some strange reason. Maybe Soft Bunny TOLD….)
5. The Eazy-Bake-Oven Xmas gift was mysteriously transposed with one Hot Plastic Monster-Maker Oven, resulting in one heavily burned cookie monster and an interior plastic coating on Eazy-Bake that announced the demise of an otherwise-good idea. (Ed.’s Note: Hot Plastic Monster-Maker was pulled from the market after that. Perhaps Mom wrote to them advising that a precocious 6-year-old should NOT be tempted with an oven that produced baked plastic monsters at up to 500 degrees! BTW: I claim I was the sole originator of ‘child advisories’ on packaging! And the notion of ‘child proofing’, for that matter.)
Thus I adeptly tore through my childhood like a feral wild child, happily scattering havoc in my wake and leaving Mom to apply the ‘you just never know’ piece when scenarios became too challenging for words.
As with most adults I find myself parroting ‘Momisms’ at unusual moments. Moments when the phrase just pops out and I am like “OMG – I just spoke using my mother’s voice!”
I try to save it for appropriate situations. Like the $16 Jackalope I am surreptitiously (and blatantly frivolously) purchasing on EBay.
When it shows up on my desk unexpectedly, I will attempt to explain its appearance as the obvious result of (a) Phantom Intervention (b) Santa forgot something at Xmas and was RE-DELIVERING (c) it dropped outta the sky, much in the manner a good Jackalope will do.
And at the certain protests from the Peanut Gallery I shall quizzically apply my Mother’s phrase and quietly walk away, just as she did:
“You just never know. (When a Jackalope will *mysteriously* appear to change your life!)”