The Bright Side: Joe Bushue

It happens before you know it. Even though you said you would never do it, you start repeating the phrases that you were told when you’re a child, and swore you would never say to a child of your own.

You know, “Don’t cross eyes, they might stay that way” and “Shut the door, you’re letting all the heat out!” “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, does that mean you would join them?” And of course my favorite, “BECAUSE I SAID SO!.”

I’m sure you also have some of your own.

When you’re younger, you don’t understand the historical DNA that these statements have. They probably even go back to Adam and Eve, when she would say to Cain, “Don’t tease Abel, someone could get hurt.” (OK, bad example.) Probably from the time man first discovered fire and found that he could keep his cave warm, he was yelling at his son to shut the door.

I have never seen someone who was permanently cross eyed, but there probably was someone, somewhere, who was. To explain this to other people, someone probably said, “Oh, they crossed their eyes and they stuck that way.”

These statements have gone on in time. Some are even virtually centuries old. Your great-great-grandparents said them to your great-grandparents, to your grandparents, parents, and so on and so on. And now, whether you want to or not, you pass them on to your own children, who will pass to their children and so on and so on and ...

One time, when my daughter was 10, she and a friend wanted to go shopping at a mall by themselves. Of course I said no. My daughter said, “Wait a minute, Dad” (I knew just by that I’d better be on my toes), “now girls mature faster than boys, so actually we are more like 13.”

I told her, “No, the way it works is that you are 10, so you’re actually 10. If you were a boy, you would mentally be more like 6 or 7.”

That seemed to work, and I didn’t have to use a single banned phrase.

Then it happened.

My daughter told me she wanted a new jacket that all her friends had, and it cost only $100. When I tried to tell her not to bow to peer pressure and to create a style of her own, she didn’t buy that at all. When I told her that money is not something you harvest or just pick up off the street, again she didn’t buy that.

I was getting more frustrated and was running out of things to say. She said, “Dad, give me one good reason why I can’t have that.”

At a loss, I yelled, “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

That actually worked. It was then I learned why some of the old classics work best, and I could see why they withstand the test of time.

Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life in general. Reach him by email at [email protected]com.

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