In life there are things that people tell us are going to happen. They tell us that when we’re older we will realize this, or when we have more experience we’ll know that. The world is full of things that we will come to understand with just a little bit more life under our belt. While you may file these future truths away in your head as something to look out for or just fully dismiss, it is inevitable that they will one day show up and will completely catch you off guard. One of those things, for better or for worse, is turning into your parents. It’s unavoidable, and, I’m afraid to say, gets worse with age. Without my knowledge, my parents’ idioms and quirks have infiltrated my head and house in ways I can’t ignore. These are but two of the most pervasive examples.
Mornings are always particularly hard in a house full of girls. Getting out the door is like organizing a cattle herd. Or, at least that is how my dad would always handle it. Being a nervous sort (which, yes, he definitely passed down), he was always ready to go first and could not understand the frantic running around of the girls in the family to collect the last few things we would absolutely need on our likely very short outing. To round us up and let us know that leaving time was that moment, he would use the cattle call from Rawhide, “Head ’em up, move ’em out!” While the origin of the phrase ties to a very sweet story of his childhood memory of watching the show with his twin brother, you can imagine the teenage glares he would receive as we eventually fell in line and moved out the door. It was classic Dad, but as we grew up and there was less and less opportunity for my dad to use this phrase, I began to forget about it. That is, until I had two girls to get out of the house. No one was more shocked than I when out of nowhere on a particularly rough morning I exclaimed in true military style, “Head ’em up, move ’em out!”
From my mother I have gained several quirks, and from watching her turn more and more into her mother as time goes on, I know that the quirks she has passed on to me have not all come out to rear their heads yet. The most prevalent (to my knowledge) is her automatic use of sound in reaction to unexpected or notable events. The dropping of a pan, small trip over a toy, or fumbling of an object is always followed quickly by a sharp and involuntary “whoops.” Not only for fumbles of her own but also for others. These noise reactions, though, are most noticeable in the car. Any quick stop or turn is accompanied by the exaggerated human imitation of the sound the car would be making, much like a cartoon. Quick stops typically get a high-pitched “Eeeeeerck.” Fast turns, or really most turns, get a “Wueeeeeeee” as she imitates the steering wheel and tires turning in true Indianapolis speedway style. While at some point it likely started out as something fun and silly to do, it is ingrained now and happens very unconsciously. I know, because I do it too. I became aware of the noises in late elementary school but did not become aware of my own propensity to unconsciously imitate vehicles until I found myself riding in a car in high school with a boy I was particularly interested in impressing. And as most teenage boys do, he stopped a bit short and turned a bit too fast. As we hugged the first turn, I felt his sideways glance as I exclaimed, “Wuueeeeeee!”
Our parents help make us who we are, for better or for worse. We focus so much on what we want to teach our kids and in the meantime pass on the quirks. Maddie and Riley have not escaped the generational burden of these particular family quirks. All I have to say now in the mornings is “Head ’em up” and Riley follows with “Move ’em out” and she walks passed me out the door. And each morning the music in our car is interrupted by a chorus of cartoonish car noises as we take the turn out of our neighborhood. We can’t escape becoming our parents, but it is nice to have someone to blame your quirks on.