The cast of the 1950s TV show, 'Father Knows Best'

People have accused me of giving my husband a hard time in this space. And it’s true. But, it’s also always well-deserved. For the most part, it’s usually due to his inability to be a grown-up on a day-to-Nigro_Laurie_badgeday basis. Overall, he’s a really good guy. But sometimes, the things that come out of his mouth astound and appall me. Even the children face-palm when he spews some horrible bit of parenting advice.

We’ve actually started labeling and compiling these gems of fatherly wisdom. Because otherwise, no one would believe us. Also, the emotional scarring produced by these comments causes everyone to suppress the memories. You’ve got to get them while the wound is raw.

1. “If you really want to make money, sell drugs.”
This one was directed at our oldest child when he lamented how he lacked funds to buy some piece of gaming crap that I don’t care about. Call me old-fashioned, but regardless of the reason for needing cash, I feel like the illegal drug trade is not a viable solution.

2. “Just blow it off.”
This can pertain to any number of critically important tasks at hand. A friend is paying you to care for their animals but you’re tired and don’t want to go? Dad has the answer. You have a big project due at school and are reaching out to your parents for help in figuring out where to begin? Brian will guide you. Are you getting over an illness and the medicine doesn’t taste like candy? Hell, just blow it off.

3. “Hey, what’s that?” (pointing to the sky)
If you’re gullible enough to look up, and almost all children under the age of 10 are extremely, painfully gullible, he will karate chop your neck. It’s affectionately called the “Ninjy Chop” and is the bane of my existence. On the way back from Disney World, with 16 family members on the plane, my husband started a mini-riot. Fathers and children, from ages 18 to four, were attempting to break one another’s esophagus. I became so irate that I threatened all of them, adults included, with lifelong grounding if it didn’t stop. It has been five long years and the Ninjy Chop still spans two states. Now that the kids are older, I’ve stepped out of the fight. If you’re foolish enough to listen to your father, you get what you deserve. The spillover into sibling neck chops is just a super swell side-effect of this lovely bit of fathering that I have to contend with.

4. “Fight him.”
This is an oft suggested solution to a myriad of life’s problems. I think the first time it was spoken was when a child complained of too much homework. “Just run at your teacher and start throwing punches.” And if you have a conflict with a close friend and want some parental guidance in working it out, Dad always has lasting words of wisdom. You can also count on this comment if the dogs and/or cats are bothering you.

5. “Aim low. If you let them know what you’re capable of, they’ll expect more from you.”
I don’t think this really needs clarification. Needless to say, my kids are overachievers who sometimes stress out about the minutia of things. I’m not sure this pearl really helps reduce their level of angst. But it does change the focus away from their issue and onto to their father’s complete inability to help.

6. “Slap her in the face for me.”
This one was actually directed at me. This past week, my little one ate something which did not agree with her. At 4:30 in the morning, it decided to leave her body. My children have terrible puking etiquette and rarely make it to a toilet bowl, or even a trash can. This time, she vomited down the stairs. When I asked why she was at the top of the stairs instead of the bathroom, I was told that she was coming to tell me she felt sick to her stomach. In the darkness, she couldn’t see the incredulous look on my half-asleep face. I recovered enough to send her off to the bathroom while I retrieved the necessary cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing items necessary to sanitize the stairs. Since Brian was already off at work, I texted him. We should all share in the glories, as well as the miseries, of parenthood. This was his helpful advice.

7. “You’re lucky we feed you.”
This one came as we were discussing something in relation to meal planning. I think he suggested some type of tortellini dish. However, our youngest has celiac disease and we have yet to find a suitable gluten-free tortellini. I reminded him of this little detail, at which point he looked over at our outraged child and said, “You and all your gluten-y issues,” and finished by pointing out her good fortune in having such a benevolent father.

8. “You a sucka.”
This one usually has nothing to do with anything. For example, a child may ask me what time they have work that day. Or perhaps wonder if they can have a friend come over. Before I can even answer, Dad will hop in with this comment. We all stare at him for a moment, and then proceed with our conversation as if he never spoke. As a matter of fact, we regularly employ this method. Ignoring his existence, while he loudly laughs and congratulates himself on his hilarity, is a regular part of our existence.

9. “I will crush your soul.”
Where doesn’t this apply when speaking to your children? Nothing boosts a child’s sense of power and pride like a father who threatens to crush his or her soul.

10. “Let’s wrestle.”
This is often non-verbal and usually comes without warning. My husband is a huge fan of wrestling. Not the WWE type, but the actual sport of wrestling. When our firstborn was minutes old and I had just finished two hours of vomiting between every contraction, Brian was figuring out which year this newly arrived child would be a USA Olympic gold medalist. So I think the fact that our son vehemently hates wrestling and anything that pertains to wrestling is God’s way of punishing Brian. Anyway, the attacks come when we’re busy doing something else and are completely unprepared. The children just go limp and practice non-violent resistance. I fight like an angry bear. All Brian’s really done is hone my skills in surprise attacks. I would suggest that you never sneak up on me. Ever.

I hope you now understand where I’m coming from. Enjoy Brian’s words of wisdom. Feel free to use them in your role as parent. Just know that you indemnify and hold harmless me, my family and anyone else who suggested this was serious parenting advice. That includes any emotional scarring your children may suffer. I’m just glad our insurance includes mental health coverage.

Since we can’t seem to make him stop giving out words of wisdom, I think we should just start wearing ear plugs. In case of emergency, we can make them really quickly at home. Wikihow  has step by step instructions, including photos.

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Laurie Nigro, a mother of two, is passionate about her family, her community, and natural living. Laurie resides in downtown Riverhead and is co-founder of the River and Roots Community Garden on West Main Street.
Write to Laurie:
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Laurie Nigro
Laurie is the mother of two biological children and one husband and the caretaker of a menagerie of animals. Laurie is passionate about frugal, natural living. She was recognized by the L.I. Press Club with a “best humor column” award in 2016 and 2017. Email Laurie