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Many, many, many years ago I started a project that I have yet to complete. It’s a list I’ve been compiling, one that I’ve saved, lost, rewritten from memory and have misplaced again. I call the project “Get Your Boots off the Windshield.” It’s a collection of the darnedest phrases we adults have said or heard said to kids, and I’ve been trying since, oh probably 1997 or so, to collect 101 of them.

One of my favorites spurred from a question asked by my oldest daughter when she was barely three years old. It was potty training time and she was getting much better about going. She was (and, even at 17, somewhat still is) a very affectionate child, so my wife shouldn’t have been too startled by the kid’s honest, caring, rather squeamish question.

The poor little girl was pushing hard and making odorous, solid progress. In between grunts Mommy would inquire, “Are you okay, kiddo?”, all the while trying to inhale as little as possible.

“Yes, Mommy. I love you Mommy.” What a cute grin.

My wife smiled back, “I love you, too.” Of course, with this little imp she should have known there was more.

The next question (it was more like an invitation) made my wife cringe, if only a little. It was an honest, somewhat ill-timed request. You couldn’t be mad at a cutie pie for such a sincere question, but the rule we try to teach our kids — be it yelling loudly or running or sticking your finger in your nose — is that there’s a time and a place for everything. This did not feel like the time or place to fulfill such a routine appeal.

My wife’s decline was gracious and straightforward. With a smile, she plainly told the child, “No. I will not hug you while you poop.”

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