Things Southern Mamas Say to Their Boys

There are some things only the mothers of sons can relate to.

Nellah Bailey McGough
Three Boys at Tasia Malakasis's Easter Party
Photo: Jennifer R. Davick

As the mother of two boys, there's a common thread that runs from their childhood all the way through adulthood–trying to get them to do things the right way—which is my way. Nagging is what they like to call it. My husband joked that I wasn’t going to tell them but 10 more times to do (insert whatever chore is applicable). They are now 23 and 26, and while they’ve grown into great men, I feel like I had to pound manners into them along this journey. I realize now that it left them “deaf” to my constant demands. And it left me with a lot of stress and many sore throats. Of course my mantra has always been, “If you’d do it the first time, I wouldn’t have to nag you.” Below are just a handful of my favorites. Raising boys can be fun, exasperating, tiresome, expensive, but when it comes down to it, they love their mamas. After all, they'll always be my babies, and, well, Mama’s always right!

  1. “For the LAST time…get – out – of – the - bed! You’re gonna be late and I’m not going in and writing another excuse for you. That school secretary is mean.”
  2. “How many times do I have to tell you to pick up your clothes? They’re not going to get up and walk themselves to the washin’ machine!”
  3. “Mister, this is the LAST time I’m going to tell you to take out the trash. We both work all day and the least you could do is take out the dadgum trash.”
  4. “Who drank the last of the milk and put the carton back in the fridge? How many times do I have to ask ya’ll to throw away the empty carton and just leave me a note to buy more?”
  5. I have told ya’ll time and again to quit drinking out of the orange juice bottle. That is plain nasty.”
  6. “If you’re gonna play paintball (or football, baseball, rollerblading, skateboarding, etc.) – would you PLEASE (notice, I did say please) get that stuff out of the middle of the floor. Someone is going to trip and break their neck.”
  7. “So you’re quitting after the first week? I’ve paid good money for that uniform (or band instrument, archery equipment, ice skates, etc.). We didn’t raise a quitter and dang-it you are going to stick this out. (At least for the semester after I figure we’ve gotten some of our money’s worth and teaching him somewhat of a lesson without going deeper in debt for this fly-by-night, I’ll-die-if-I-don’t- play (insert activity here)).
  8. “You are NOT quitting Scouts. We’ve come this close and you’re not about to stop until you’ve earned that Eagle Badge. It will look good on your resume.”
  9. “Have you written that thank you note to your grandmother? It won’t kill you to write two sentences. Here, I’ll write it for you and you can just copy it down. It’ll make her day.”
  10. “Have you finished your homework? It’s an easy grade and it will help your GPA. I don’t understand why you won’t do it.”
  11. “Let’s get started on that book report so you won’t be waiting until the last minute.”
  12. 2 weeks later… “Have you started on that book report? Have you even read any of it? I’m not going to do it for you. I’ve been through school.”
  13. 4 days before the book report is due… “Ok, you have to turn this in – it’s for a fourth of your grade! Call Books a Million and see if they have the cliff notes…”
  14. “Do not go up in that tree after the cat. The cat will come down when it’s ready. I don’t have time to sit in the emergency room with a broken arm tonight!”
  15. “Can you please sit still? Shhh! We are trying to listen to the preacher. Do you want me to put you back in the baby room? Because that’s how you’re acting!”
  16. “You are going to these ballroom classes. Everyone does it and it’ll teach you how to be a gentleman around the girls.”