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Dan and I were getting ready to run errands. We stood at the bottom of the steps, trying to coax Spotty down so he could go for a ride in the car with us. But Spotty wasn’t budging. He acted as if he didn’t know what we wanted.

“Look at him,” I said. “Standing there looking like Ned in the first reader.”

“What?” Dan said. “Who in the what?”

I had to laugh at myself. That was a phrase my mother always used when somebody seemed confused or out of sorts. I do not know who Ned was. I always thought my mother had a first-grade reader featuring some kid named Ned, much as I (and maybe you, too) grew up with Dick and Jane, and Ned must have been a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I would generally have used a more colorful phrase to describe Spotty’s moment of perplexity, but that was the one that popped out almost without me being aware of it.

My mom had lots of phrases like that – “momisms,” I guess you’d call them. All moms have them. Many of my mom’s sayings were downright pithy and corny. Some were indiscernible. She would say someone who was at a loss for what to do or where to go was like “a lost ball in high weeds.” That is a good metaphor. She had another saying that I have no idea what she meant. She would say someone who was dressed oddly or sloppily looked like “death eating donuts.” Or did she mean “death-eaten donuts”? I never did find out. It conjured up a picture in my head of a skeleton nibbling on a Krispy Kreme. Makes you wonder if Ned in the first reader ate donuts …

What are some “momisms” you remember from your mothers, or that you use yourself?