Baby Bigfoot is choking on a cookie.
"Hands up!" I say, and he raises his arms, still coughing, with a confused expression.
My daughter's dance teacher passes us. "Hands up!" she tells him. He lifts his arms up again. Five minutes later he's choking on juice.
"Oh, oh, it went down the wrong pipe; that's what happens when you laugh with food in your mouth." I say.
Baby Bigfoot anticipates my next sentence and like Pavlov's dog, he raises his hands above his head giggling through the cough.
At least he's prepared for any future arrests. Why do I tell him to do that? I wonder.
I stop the dance teacher as she passes a second time.
"Why do you say "hands up" when someone coughs?" I ask her.
She pauses and shrugs. "My mother always said it. Where did you learn it?"
I tell her from my mother.
Isn't it weird that we carry on sayings and traditions, like programmed robots, not even knowing why? This thought occupies my mind while I watch the Princess twirl across the floor in the next room.
"THE MAN" is another unexplainable legend in my family.
(Flashback to 1977)
My Mom: "Loren, Don't touch! ...Hey, THE MAN is watching."
My Reaction: Frozen terror.
I imagined this MAN. He was big, that's for sure, with a black hood that hid his face and long, knotted fingers reaching out to grab kids.
(Fast-forward to 2010)
Me: "You better stop now, HERE COMES THE MAN."
My kids' reaction: "lol mom."
Who is THE MAN? and what happened to his effectiveness?! He started losing authority when my younger brother was about two years old. Then mom had to call backup for THE MAN.
Mom: "Put that down Robbie, you're going to get hurt...Here comes THE MAN! Oh oh! Do I have to call the police?!"
I corner my extended family at lunch. At the table is my mother, aunt and grandmother.
"Mom, who is THE MAN? and why do mothers say 'Hands up" when kids choke?"
My mom looks at my aunt, and they both shrug.
"We don't know. We just heard it from grandma." my mother says.
"Where did you get those ideas, grandma?"
My grandmother, a mother of four who is in her eighties, shrugs.
"I don't know. My mother and grandmother used to say those things."
"I think it's time to retire THE MAN. After about 100-plus years of lurking around near naughty children, he's lost his edge. What is this world coming to?" I ask my family, laughing. Then I raise my arms up in the air. (I'm choking on my ham sandwich.)
"Oh, oh, it went down the wrong pipe. That's what happens when you try to talk with food in your mouth." says grandma.
by Loren Christie
Loren blogs at Dude, Where Am I?