ShaneHalbach.com

Tough chickens, beggars don’t ride fishes, and other phrases

Sometimes when one of the kids is whining about how much they want something, what I think in my head is, “Yeah? Tough shit.” But I don’t *say* tough shit, because swearing at children is frowned upon by society for some reason. So I had to come up with something else to say, and what I came up with was, “tough chickens”.

“But I don’t want to set the table!” “Tough chickens, do it anyway.” “I know we’re late for school, but none of my socks feel right!” “Tough chickens.” “But dad, I don’t want to eat supper, this poultry is too hard to chew! “Touch chickens.”

I’ve said it so often that the children just assume it’s part of the English language, an accepted phrase, and I’ve heard them say it to each other. In fact, one time I told Ollie I made it up and he refused to believe me.

Another phrase you can’t say to kids is, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.” I mean, it’s really a shame, because there are some scenarios where that one would just be PERFECT. But there are two phrases that mean about the same thing, that are *almost* as lyrical: “if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride” and “if wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets”.

A little more child friendly that telling a kid to shit in their hand (and less risky, too. Kids can be disturbingly literal at times). Anyway, I like the sound of “wishes were fishes” and I like the sound of “then beggars would ride”, so I told my kids the phrase was, “If wishes were fishes, then beggars would ride.”

When Evelyn got old enough she said it didn’t make sense. Naturally, I explained that the whole phrase was, “if wishes were fishes, then beggars would ride. Fishes.” (I always say the fishes part as kind of an aside, like I was explaining.)

She seemed to accept this for a while, but eventually she must have heard the full horses one somewhere because one day she got fed up. She said, “Daddy! Beggars don’t ride fishes! They ride horses.” And I said, “Well, if you have wishes, why stop at horses?”

Right about now you’re probably thinking what a good father I am, and you’re right.

So this one time we were at the swimming pool, and the kids wanted to play a game they had learned. “It’s called sharks and fishes,” they said. “Can I just kind of float here?” I asked. “No, that’s not how you play. You have to try to swim away so the shark doesn’t eat you.” “Ooooh, I was thinking of a different game,” I said. “It’s called sharks and hotdogs. It’s kind of the same thing, except the hot dogs just have to float there while the shark eats them, because hot dogs can’t swim.”

“Daddy!” said Evelyn, who does not appreciate this sort of genius as much as she aught to, “That doesn’t make any sense. Sharks do not eat hot dogs.” “Oh yeah?” I said. “Then where did they get the phrase, ‘like a shark with a hot dog’?” “That’s not a phrase,” she said suspiciously. (But I mean, honestly, does it make any less sense than some other, more legitimate phrases? ) “Yes it is,” I said. “You say it when something is really fast. Like, ‘wow, he ran that race faster than a shark with a hot dog!'”

Anyway, this is just a long way to say that I convinced my kids to use “faster than a shark with a hot dog” in everyday conversation.

But don’t stop there! Let’s talk about how my uncle Scott invented the phrase “awesome snaps”:

Now that I am officially old (in the eyes of my kids), nothing I say or do is very cool. To illustrate this, I made up the phrase “awesome snaps” that I use to say something is cool; like Ginger snaps, but more awesome. I did this specifically in order to get an eye roll from my daughter, who assures me, at every occasion, that “awesome snaps” is NOT a THING, and never will be.

Oh, it will be. Ohhhh it will be.

I mean, look, if you aren’t interested in molding the minds of the next generation, why even HAVE kids, amiright? And if they don’t like it? Tough chickens.

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