Yo’ Momma Don’t Have to Know!

29 Sep

Do you know what I’ve discoveredMost of the current groups of parents who are rearing children from the age of zero to eighteen are missing the boat and the point, and they don’t even know it.  That’s because, in our country, it takes more effort and education to get a driver’s license, buy a house, or become an American citizen than it does to get pregnant and have a child.  A child “gettin’ over” on his or her parents today could be the leader of a great country in the future or the head of a terrorist organization tomorrow and how a parent handles the situation might affect the outcome.  When I see a defiant, two-year-old stubbornly stomping her foot while screaming loudly enough to bring the dead back to life, and the mother tearfully negotiating with her potential
terrorist with “listen, Honey, if you’ll just stop screaming, Mommy will buy you a present when we’re finished,” I’m
torn between slapping the parent upside her head for being such a spineless idiot, or letting her in on a little secret about childrearing.

The Secret:  These delightful little bundles of joy that we can’t help but fall in love with when they are born have a hidden agenda and an insatiable thirst to take over the world.  You, Mommy, are their first conquest!

I’ve discovered that all children enter stage right or left in Earth’s comedy/drama with two weapons in their arsenal for taking their parents hostage:

  • an irrevocable certificate guaranteeing children “free will” from their creator
  • an underground handbook entitled: “Yo’ Momma Don’t Have to Know” (YMDHTK) by The Devil, otherwise known as the knowledge of good and evil

The day I learned about the YMDHTK Handbook, I was almost ten years into the process of rearing children and had managed to appear omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent to both my children.  In other words, I scared the shit out of them.  I was ghetto mom dressed up in Christian suburban clothing married to their white father, but they knew not to mess with me.  (Let’s just say, no kid ever threw a hissy fit on me in the mall on my
watch.)  I was also naïve as hell because I thought children were vacant little sponges just waiting to absorb all of my wonderful wisdom and knowledge while I formed them into mini-mes.

After school one day a little roly-poly boy around the age of ten, who I suspect had been studying the YMKDTK Handbook since he was born, introduced my older daughter (Boo) to the concept that perhaps her parents weren’t as smart as we had led her to believe.  When he invited her to play hooky from school and she responded that she could never do that because her mother would kill her, roly-poly boy promptly informed Boo:  “Yo Momma don’t have to know!”  As it is with every child when they discover that information can be withheld from their godlike parents, this was a revelation to Boo.  My daughter came home and shared her newfound knowledge with her little sister, Baby-girl, and before I knew it, I was queen of a kingdom that was under siege.


A mother’s curse:  I should have seen the revelation of the YMDHTK Handbook coming when I caught the urchins in their first bald-faced lie.  Do you know that child psychologists say that children tell their first lie between the ages of three and five?  God help us!  Did you also know that Wikipedia has twenty-one categories for lying, including such obscurities as the Butler Lie (Question from the police: “Who killed the maid?” Answer from the murderer:  “The butler did it!”), and the Jocuse Lie (“I caught a fish that was forty-feet long with just my homemade fishing rod and dental floss!”).  Ask a two year old holding a red crayon who it was that wrote on your freshly painted White Linen #42 walls with red crayon, and they will triumphantly announce:  “Me
did!”  Ask a three to five year old who did the dastardly deed and they will say (without blinking an eye):  “The
butler did it!” 

Although I haven’t been able to get ahold of that YMDHTK Handbook to corroborate my suspicions, I think there must be several chapters devoted to lying and how to “get over” on one’s parents at the earliest age possible.  The first time I caught one of my kids in a hands down, blatant, bare-faced lie (Wikipedia lie # 3) was the day I took them on an errand with me to someone’s office and there was a bowl of grape Jolly Ranchers sitting on the secretary’s desk.  Baby-girl, whose “raison d’etre” was candy at that age, had been grounded from eating any candy for a couple of weeks because of some infraction she had committed (probably eating too much
candy).  She was about five years old at the time and she still thought I walked on water.  As we drove home from our errand, both Boo and Baby-girl were in the backseat, and as I began to ask them about their day
at school, I noticed only Boo was answering.

“Hey, Baby-girl, what’s going on back there?  Did the cat get your tongue?”

“Nuffling,” said my younger daughter, who sounded like someone had stuffed her mouth with

“Baby, what do you have in your mouth?” I asked, trying not to take my eyes off the road.

“Nuffling (slurp); absonutely nuffling, Momma (sluuuuurp),” said my younger daughter.

Mooooom, how come the car smells like a grape soda bath?” asked Boo, the enforcer (according to that great sage, Bill Cosby, the oldest child is always “the enforcer” and the youngest “the squealer” when it comes to helping parents unearth lies).  “And how come Baby-girl has grape blood pouring out the corners of her mouth like a vampire, Mom?”

When I pulled over to the side of the road to investigate, Baby-girl was still denying she had anything in her mouth as I pried it open and made her spit out what looked like twenty grape Jolly Ranchers (some still in their plastic wrappings).  How she managed to grab so many Jolly Ranchers from the office candy dish and when she managed to unwrap and stuff them into her mouth I will never know.  All I know is that it took me several days to get the stain off her little vanilla cheeks and it never came out of her white blouse – evidence of a bare-faced lie of a five-year-old gone awry.


“Have you any idea how many kids it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen?


  It takes one to say, ‘What light?’ and two
more to say, “I didn’t turn it on.’”

Erma Bombeck


A father’s blind side:  Fathers are even more clueless to this grand conspiracy of free will/YMDHTK philosophy, especially when it comes to girls.  I think there must be some type of magic spell in the book that girls can make and sprinkle into the eyes of their daddies from their first encounter in the delivery room, because little girls can pull the wool over their fathers’ eyes for a very, very long time.

I first noticed this phenomenon one day when our girls were five and four.  I left the babies with my husband (WW) while I went down to a recording studio to do a couple of voice overs for some radio commercials.  When I left, Boo had two braids and puffy, curly bangs; Baby-girl had two puff balls the size of Ping-Pong balls
(mini-pigtails) and a smaller set of puffy, curly bangs.  When I returned approximately four hours later, all three of them were in the garage.  WW was working on the lawn mower and the girls were riding their tricycles in and out of the double garage and cycling around their dad as if he were a traffic circle.  The minute I laid eyes on them, I was completely horrified.  WW glanced up at my apoplectic gesturing and gave me one of those
puzzled looks that only husbands can do when they can’t figure out what the hell you’re getting so upset about.


“Nothing happened to their hair,” said WW.  They were in the house playing dolls and dress up while I was paying bills, and then when I moved out into the garage to repair the lawn mower, they came outside with me to ride their bikes.  They have been perfect little angels, haven’t you girls?”

“Yes, Daddy,” said the Barbers of Seville in perfect, innocent unison.

Part of playing with their dolls during dress-up must have been a trip to the barber shop when WW wasn’t looking, because one of Boo’s braids and half her bangs were gone.  One of Baby-girl’s puff-ball pigtails was missing and she had a little close-cropped Afro where the ball of hair had been.  Where her bangs used to be was a layer of peach fuzz. Once I pointed out the missing hair on the lopsided twins, WW saw it, but he swears to this day that he has no idea when the urchins set up their barber shop and when they performed the great scalping act on each other.  Daddy pixie dust!


I am sure there must be endless instructions to kids on how to get over on their parents in the YMDHTK Handbook, if I could just find a copy to peruse.  But until I do, I’ll just have to guess at what it must contain.  I know there must be a section on learning how to argue like a first rate lawyer, because after years of me wishing they could form intelligent sentences and carry on a conversation when they were little, they soon got to a place where they could argue a bear out of his coat of fur in the middle of winter.  There were times in their teens when all I wanted to do was fly away and return to a time when all they did was coo.

Taking on the world:  It is a revelation when concepts or people start getting on your children’s nerves when you thought they lived in a sweet world of simplicity where they loved anyone who loved them.  It makes me wonder if there is a chapter in the YMDHTK Handbook that gives lessons in childhood cynicism.  I’ll never forget when Baby-girl watched Kermit the Frog on TV.  She was only five when the 20th anniversary celebration of the song, “Bein’ Green” was being heralded as a great Sesame Street treatment about race.  One day when Baby-girl and I were having a little “mommy and me” cuddling time after morning kindergarten, Kermit started singing, “It’s not easy being green…” about the ordinariness of being green and how all the other colors of the spectrum had a better go of it in the world.  About halfway through the song, I heard my biracial baby utter a huge sigh and mumble a bitter lament as she absent-mindedly twirled her baby doll’s hair:  “Seriously, Frog?  You must
be kidding me…it isn’t easy being light brown, either!”

When all is said and done:  I am discovering that a person can have all kinds of ideas about how they think children should be raised, but until you are actually a parent, none of it is worth the paper it is written on.  A person can have ten kids and each kid will be different from the other requiring a more nuanced skill set from the parents for each one.  And then there’s that teeny-weeny empowerment thing called “free will.”  When it comes to raising kids, free will is a bitch!   Because of it, the worst of parents can sometimes produce a president, and the best of parents can sometimes produce a felon.  It’s really quite a mystery, but it would help all parents if we could just locate that goddamn “Yo’ Momma Don’t  Have to Know” Handbook.  To the grandmothers across the world, if you’ve found this handbook, let me know!

“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.”  John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)||Poet

All text and photos by Eleanor and John Tomczyk copyrighted © 2011 except where otherwise noted.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


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29 responses to “Yo’ Momma Don’t Have to Know!

  1. imagesbytdashfield

    September 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    When they are born they are slipped this handbook of how to gain control of parent/s. It’s in a language only they can understand. We were given Dr. Spock and told good luck, sucker! But revenge comes when they have kids and we become grandparents. My “wish” for my children are that they have kids JUST like they were! Cue evil laughter….

    • etomczyk

      September 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Yes, yes, yes! You are a woman after my own heart. In my memoir, one of the final lines is that I’m cool with all the horror that my kids’ free will visited upon me, because they have forged their own trail, and we have grown deeper in love through it all. But, Lord, give them kids just like they were so that I can sit back and watch the games begin! Cue evil laughter, indeed! 🙂

  2. myonepreciouslife

    September 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    You’re hilarious. That was great.

    • etomczyk

      September 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Loved your post on the sexual orientation of the color orange, by the way. Is it or isn’t it. . . 🙂

  3. Jerry Keusch

    September 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I think this is a pretty cool site and really like your concept. As a result I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Congratulations! Go to this post to claim.

    • etomczyk

      October 1, 2011 at 12:33 am

      Thanks Jerry. I really appreciate the thought. I must be pretty popular this week because I’ve won this award 5 times! It’s nice to have people appreciate your work. All the best.

  4. Shannon

    October 1, 2011 at 2:52 am

    I loved this post, as a mother (to a 5 and 7 year old who shock me with their ability to lie sometimes!) and as someone who has worked with kids for years. Glad I stumbled into your blog!

    • etomczyk

      October 1, 2011 at 3:14 am

      Thanks for the lovely compliment, Shannon. The girls are now in their late twenties but they still remember these stories (probably because they’ve been repeated so many times in the family). Baby-girl is still a grape Jolly Rancher fan until this day. I stopped by your blog and really enjoyed it. Your boys are adorable. It takes me back. . . . now onto being a grandmother!

  5. An Observant Mind

    October 1, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Im with you 100%, parents do not seem to want to (or know how to?) discipline their children and the result is rude, selfish brats with no manners. My son knows please and thank you. He knows how to open a door for a lady (and he’s only 7) and he uses these tools, partly because its ingrained in him, and partly because he knows what I will do to him if he doesn’t To use his words to my husband a few weeks back “The only people who know everything daddy, are Jesus and mommy.” Of course my response to my husbands look of horror was “That’s right honey, and don’t you forget it.” Great post! x

    • etomczyk

      October 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Fabulous line — “The only people who know everything daddy are Jesus and Mommy!” You must use that in a story. Absolutely fabulous.

      Thanks for dropping by. I really appreciate it. I think I’ve read your blog a couple of times because I loved the title. All the best.

  6. DesiValentine

    October 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Oh, honey. What I would do to get my hands on that handbook! I’ve got one who admits to everything, even if he didn’t do it (aka The Fall Guy); one who blames anyone and everyone regardless of who did it (The Rat); one who freely admits what she’s done while glaring at me expectantly (Miss What’re You Gonna Do About It); and one who immediately loses the ability to make words the second she senses trouble (The Mute). I would pay A LOT for that handbook.

    Thanks for the chuckles!

    • etomczyk

      October 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      These names are just priceless. I wish I had thought of the: The Fall Guy, The Rat, The Mute, and the Miss What’re You Gonna Do About It! This is a story waiting to be told and you’ve got the skills to do it. Wouldn’t those names make excellent characters in a children’s book? Think about it.

  7. BisonWoman

    October 2, 2011 at 3:14 am

    “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours” by Kevin Lehman is the only way I survived rearing children! No, he didn’t pay me for this!

    • etomczyk

      October 2, 2011 at 4:47 am

      Kevin Lehman’s books were the only ones that really worked for me as well, especially the instructions to train kids to take responsibility for their actions and help them to learn to live with the consequences. This teaches them that there are no insignifiant choices. I actually think this is the secret to raising balanced kids, but it takes a lot of courage. Thanks so much for stopping by. I really appreciate it! Cheers.

  8. Tilly Bud

    October 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I recognise so much in this!

    Did you know that research has proved that a lying child = an intelligent child? I wouldn’t know which one to choose 🙂

    • etomczyk

      October 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      Well, maybe that explains it. I am still stuned after all these years how easily it was for my urchins to pull the wool over my eyes. But I’m hearing from a lot of moms that I am not alone. Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it.

  9. TexasTrailerParkTrash

    October 3, 2011 at 3:20 am

    When my daughter was in middle school she thought she’d put one over on the administration by forging a note from me to get out of class early. Unfortunately for her, she misspelled “orthodontist.” Amateur.

    • etomczyk

      October 3, 2011 at 3:51 am

      LOL! I swear this is why I need Zumba today to try and carve off the fat that came from the stress of dealing with teenagers who figured their Momma didn’t have to know! I’m getting even though: The Lord knows I’m sending up prayers every day that they have children just like themselves. As one of my readers says: “cue evil laugh.”

  10. The T

    October 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    We are all made of so many different swatches of cloth….as for me? I’m a 42 year old wild child, I was raised by my grandmother and a hardline step dad…. he also raised me to be tough enough to tackle anything in front of me, yet my moral compass? Yeah…well I enjoy life to the fullest and I can say that I walked the line while i was a child in his household….and when i got out of the prison environment and tasted freedom? I liked it so much living life in the manner that I do has become my addiction…

    My kids? i reign them in carefully yet with a really stern hand… am i going to lose them to the winds of societal values? Maybe….no one can say I didn’t try to keep them innocent for as long as possible…


    • etomczyk

      October 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Hello Thomas. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve read much of your blog and you have the life I envy (well, maybe not the hard wood part 🙂 but definitely the laid back island marguarita times and three-boat jams. Great to know you have kids. They must love growing up with the sand, the sea, and heavenly weather. All the best to you in keeping the kids healthy and strong in character. If they have their father’s heart, they are off to a good start. Cheers!

      P.S. Nice story about the autistic kids.

  11. Honeysmoke

    October 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Ooh, let’s swap a post, or a piece of a post. The Kermit the frog story is priceless.


    • etomczyk

      October 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm


      Thanks so much for stopping by. I sent you a private email in response to your query.


  12. SzaboInSlowMo

    October 5, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Hilarious…I LOVE your writing! I LOL’d (wasn’t supposed to say that anymore) all the way through, especially at the do-it-yourself haircuts. My daughter got a pair of art scissors and some hairbands, amongst other “stuff”, when she was 6 at Christmas. Went to her room for a while and came back with her hair in the hairband and NO Bangs at all! I couldn’t help but laugh and we took a photo in front of the Christmas tree with her scissors as she grinned proudly. But she did learn her lesson. It took until about May until she had real bangs again.

    • etomczyk

      October 5, 2011 at 2:32 am

      Hi Sandra: Thank you so, so much for your gracious compliments. I think almost every family has one of these barber stories and they are just hysterical. What I didn’t put in the story is that I had to give both girls litle soft-curl Afros which made the baby look like a little boy for a year. She is 27 now and is horrified that strangers thought she was a boy at first glance for the longest time! Ha!

  13. Maggie Ingram

    October 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Hmmmmm, wonder why all my heart attacks and stents were experienced through those “wonder years” of raising children in their tweens and teens. SCREAM…I’m just saying….Thanks Eleanor for walking through those years with me and for learning from you, that I too, never allowed any kind of “temper tantrum” in a mall or any other place for that matter. Doesn’t it make you wonder about those screaming kids that always find me in a store today? Great Blog, made me laugh out loud, especially the part about WW left with the girls and the outcome of that day!!! Love ya, Maggie

  14. Nonstepmom

    October 9, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Fabulous Blog, so glad I found you. I have to say I have it easy for now, my step-daughters come from one of the lazy mom’s you spoke of in the first paragraph. So far they think I’m a genius because I catch more just by simple virtue of “paying attention”, but I’m sure that’s bound to wear off. & I agree, Kevin Leman is OUR manual/defense.

    • etomczyk

      October 9, 2011 at 4:16 am

      Welcome Nonstepmom. Thanks so much for dropping by. How did you find me? So glad you like the story. Please come back and try some more of the stories — especially when you need to laugh in the midst of stepmom duties. I’ll drop by and visit you, as well.

  15. Nkosazana

    October 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I love you family! It’s so nice to see older IR couples! and you got a very nice blog!

    Oh when I see these old photos I’m so reminded of this couple not the first couple, she’s coloured, but the black woman on the second!

    • etomczyk

      October 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      Nkosazana: How lovely that you dropped by. And thank you for the clip. The couple did look like my husband and I when we were young (minus the beard). It was amazing. Thank God that he raised up Nelson to lead SA. How sad, however, that the Dutch Reformed Church sanctioned, preached, and upheld the discrimination of the “mixing of the races” as God’s law. I’m sure God wept at that pronouncement as I did in the 1980’s when it was underscored by the Church. Please drop by again. I post a new story every Thursday night. I will definitely be stopping by your blog. I now have two SA readers and I am learning so much. My dream is to travel to South Africa one day before I’m too old to tour Robbens Island and touch the walls that held Nelson captive.


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