Lies My Mother Told Me…

…and other wives-tales to get me to behave.

Hi Humans. I know, it’s been a hot minute. Life goes super fast, and I’ve been trying this new thing where when I vacation, I actually vacation. (Except when I was at the beach and technically was working remotely…) Also, you’d think it’d be easy to come up with fun, exciting content, but it’s amazing how quickly you can get writer’s block. I started off with a lofty goal of posting at least 3x a week, which then cut back to 1x a week, then once every other week, which turned into once a month, and here we are. But, I’m working on it. Mea culpa.

Anyway, I recently saw a post on Instagram that actually inspired this post. It was a meme with a picture of a car’s overhead light and the caption, “why did my mama always make me think it was illegal to turn this light on when we were driving?” I laughed and kept scrolling, then scrolled back up and laughed again. It got me thinking though, to all those ridiculous things my parents and grandparents used to say to get me to behave. Some things which I still believed until I was into my twenties…

10 Lies My Mother* Told Me
*also includes my father, grandparents, and other family members

  1. “If you keep touching your belly button, your stomach’s going to explode.”
    Imagine you’re me, and you hear this from your grandmother, who in your eyes is wise and all-knowing. I sincerely thought that if I touched my belly button too much, my stomach was going to explode and I would deflate like a balloon.
  2. “If you swallow a watermelon seed, it’s going to grow in your stomach.”
    This one seems to be pretty universal.
  3. A general fear of quicksand/avoidance of beaches
    My mother is Korean. Asians value pale skin, and the paler the better. We never really went to beaches when I was younger, probably because of that, and probably because my parents would rather go to Europe and ‘get cultured.’ I can tell you the exact moment that I became irrationally afraid of quicksand. No, it wasn’t in NeverEnding Story or Princess Bride. It was an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess where she somehow gets trapped in quicksand, and with quick thinking is able to throw her boomerang-like knife/sword(?) with rope attached into a boulder and pull herself out. It was quite an impressionable moment for me, because I still remember that scene vividly to this day. Also, when I was little, when I would hear about the undertow and currents, I just associated them with sand and assumed that when someone was swept by the current, it was because of quicksand. Example, “watch out for the undertow over there” – I thought people were saying “watch out for the quicksand under the water there.” I was actually relieved when I found out that John Mulaney and I had this same fear in common. 0ESwrfc.png
  4. “Think about dolphins and you won’t get bad dreams.”
    My dad and I had a ritual on Friday nights. We’d go to Blockbuster where he would pick out a movie, and he’d let me pick out my own movie. Then we’d go to 7/11 and pick out some snacks and come home. One night, I missed out on the Blockbuster trip because I was sick, and fell asleep before he came home. The next morning, I went down to the living room and saw that iconic Blockbuster box sitting on the coffee table and in my feverish/sleep deprived state thought I read Aladdin. It was Alien. I popped that tape in and it picked up where my dad had left off, which was the scene where the creepy hand looking thing jumps out from the overhead space and latches on to a guy’s face. To this date, I still am traumatized by that movie. I close my eyes whenever it’s on TV, and that part of the Chinese Theater ride in Disneyworld with the Alien scene legitimately gives me an anxiety attack. I’m sweating writing about this right now. So, little ol’ me quickly turned off the TV, ran upstairs to my room, and hid under the covers until my dad came looking for me. I explained to him what happened and how I thought it was Aladdin, and how scary it was. He laughed and said it wasn’t real, and the rest of the day was full of distractions, so I was seemingly okay. The problem started when it was time to go to bed. That’s when the fear started creeping in, and your brain decides to bring up all the terrible things you’re trying to not think about right before you fall asleep. After about the 5th time I called for my dad, he told me “think of dolphins (my favorite animal at the time) and you won’t get bad dreams.” To this day, I still think about that when I’m feeling anxious. When I moved into my condo, and it was my first night alone, I remember thinking that as I tried to fall asleep. So, I guess this one isn’t all that bad.
  5. “If you cry and then laugh right after, hair will grow out of your butt[hole]”
    I’m just going to leave this here. Korea’s weird and superstitious.
  6. “Chewing gum makes your jaw look more masculine”
    Guys, for the longest time, I really thought that chewing gum somehow affected your jawline. My face is round, and when I was peaking in puberty and self conscious of every feature, I regretted chewing so much gum when I was younger because I thought that’s why my face was round. Not because of genetics or anything. I avoided gum for YEARS.
  7. You’ll die of you sleep with a fan on (or words to that effect)
    Do you know how many summers I suffered quietly? My husband and I laughed about this one when we got married because he asked why I always turned off our bedroom ceiling fan before getting in bed for the night. I told him that it was just habit, but after thinking about it, this is where it all started. Koreans need to really invest more in forensics instead of ruling so many electric fan suffocation related deaths.
  8. If you have a stomachache, prick your thumb with a needle to draw some blood.
    Ok, so this one kinda works. I think it’s because your body suddenly gets a jolt of adrenaline from the pain that it temporarily distracts you from your stomachache. But, will I be tying string around MC’s finger and getting ready to poke it with a needle when she comes to me complaining of a stomachache? Probably not.
  9. “You have to eat pretty foods so your baby will be pretty.”
    My mother, bless her soul, actually said this to me while I was pregnant. Then she proceeded to hand me a really pretty apple to eat. I guess it worked, because my kid’s pretty cute.
  10. “If you take the test with the same pen/pencil you studied with, you’re going to do better.”
    I think my dad actually got this line from the “Where there’s a will, there’s an A” lecture about good study habits. The professor claimed that you can trick your mind into thinking that all the right answers are in the pen or pencil you’re using, so when you go to take the test, you’ll be more confident. This stuck with me all through undergrad as I would have minor panic attacks whenever I lost a pen I had been using all semester right before finals. Don’t do this to your kids, folks.

That’s the list for now, but I’m sure I’ll end up doing a Part 2 to this post because if I think long and hard enough, I’m sure I can come up with some good gems.

What are some of the lies your mother told you? I’d love to hear how other people were raised, and the superstitions of other cultures as well. Comment down below!

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