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Hey Kids, Here’s What I Really Meant When I Told You “Because I Said So”

Because sometimes it's easier to say "Because I said so" than "Because I Ate Bad Chili and Don't Want to Poop Three Blocks From the House"

Kids, I feel your pain. When I was your age, I hated hearing the words “because I said so.” I really did. But, as a parent, I can tell you that saying the words is an act of love. The words spare your feelings, your innocence, and your eardrums from having to listen to non-stop rants and lectures. “Because I said so” is better than the alternative, is what I mean. If you don’t believe me, let me share with you a few examples of the internal monologue that lead to those vexing words. Read this and understand, children. Do it because I said so.

father walking with children

Because I Didn’t Want To Poop My Pants Three Blocks From Our House

Maybe it was the chili. Maybe it was the grocery-store sushi. Not really interested in the “why” at the moment. I’m more interested in the moment itself, which happens to be you, sitting on the sidewalk, holding one of your shoes in your hand, shaking out a tiny pebble or a minuscule sliver of mulch onto the concrete. Our progress has stalled. We are no longer walking toward home. Unfortunately, my internal progress continues. A foreboding mix of churn and rumble is building in my gut. We have met some of the neighbors, but not all of them. It would be a shame to introduce myself while wearing soiled trousers. That’s a first impression a person never forgets.

So, dear sweet child, you need to put the shoe back on your foot, stand your feet on the sidewalk, and commence speed-walking to our front door. You need to power through whatever slight discomfort you feel in your tender little foot. You need to do these things now, because Daddy feels his own intense need that simply must be attended to sometime in the next 90 seconds. Let’s get moving right freakin’ now because I said so!

Because You Woke Me Up Three Times Last Night And Finally I Just Stayed Awake Watching Law & Order

First your leg hurt. Then you were thirsty. The last time you just moaned and refused to speak words. I felt the same way. My brain, fed up with being slapped from slumber so many times, finally remained awake. Outside, clouds hid the stars and all but the creepy crawly animals slept peacefully. On the TV, many channels offered gadgets for sale and programs revealing the truth about gluten. Then wisecracking Lenny Briscoe sauntered onto the screen and I laid my head on a decorative couch pillow, snuggled under a blanket and whispered, “Take me to church Dick Wolf.” Four hours later, you awoke with the relentless verve of the Energizer Bunny. Kudos to you. But I will not play tackle. I will not play wrestle. I will not play shriek-and-chase-the-cats. I will not run after a Wiffle ball in the backyard or trip through a soccer scrum with you. I will remain on this couch and you may approach me with offerings of quiet, minimally laborious activities. These are the terms of our interaction today, and I will hear no objections or appeals. Case dismissed because I said so!

Because What Kind of Maniac Puts His Mouth On The Back Of A Subway Seat?

The train looks very full today. I bet it’s because of the ball game. Look, there’s a seat next to that lady with the book. You sit there, and I’ll stand right over here. I can’t stand right next to you because I’d be standing too close to that other lady, and I don’t want to creep her out. You’ll understand when you’re older. Just sit still. Lemme look at the map on my phone. I want to see which station exit to use when we get to our stop. Oh my god! What are you doing? Your lips are on the back of the seat in front of you! Do you have any idea what unholy mix of bacteria and viruses are dancing a bacchanal on the back of that seat? All day every day, people put their hands right where your plump little mouth is. They might have been picking their noses — or worse. They might have just high fived a leper. Or sorted through a dumpster. They might have just finished a shift at the asbestos factory. Those hands could have been doing anything. And now your saliva is sliding trillions of pathogens into the incubator of your belly. Get your mouth off that subway seat this very instant because I said so!

girl looking at toys through glass

Because All Of This Artwork Is Glass And None Of It Is Cheap And Why The Hell Did We Come Into This Store?

I’ve known your mother for 18 of her birthdays, and I believe all the gifts have been given. And yet the birthdays continue. I asked her about her worldly desires. “You know what I like,” she said. Now I am on a treasure hunt, searching for the right trinket without knowing what it might be. I will simply know it when I see it. After all, I know what she likes. Shopping this way is time-consuming, and I am never not with you when I leave the house, so together we must hunt. I glanced in this store because its name piqued my interest. No object on offer is unbreakable. All are impossibly delicate and shimmering. I should have left immediately, but now we are inside and the birthday approaches and the hunt continues. You will not touch anything, you will not move, you will not breathe, even. You will say nothing and think nothing. You will turn to stone and remain as such while I scan the shelves hurriedly and berate myself for my poor planning. You will pass unnoticed and unremembered by the proprietor of this shop, under threat of extreme and everlasting time out, and you will do all of this because I said so!

Because You’ve Beaten Me Eight Times In a Row at Uno And I’m Disturbed By the Way You Cackle When Slapping Draw-Fours on the Pile

It’s fun, sticking it to dear old Dad, isn’t it? Getting a win. That’s a nice feeling. I wouldn’t know of course, since I’m on an epic losing streak. I can’t blame the dealer, since that’s me. I shuffle, too, of course. You just sit there raining Skips, Reverses, and Draw-Twos like hellfire. It’s OK, I can take it. What I wouldn’t mind missing out on is the delighted evil gleam in your eyes when you drop the Big One on my green 7. How many Draw-Four cards are in this deck? And why do they all end up in your hands? It’s an unanswerable question. Science fails us. I’ve failed you too, apparently. At least in the area of instilling morals and a sense of fair play. Give a guy a break, already. Enough Uno for the day. Maybe we’ll take it up again next week. Maybe we’ll throw a big Uno party and let other folks bear the brunt of your punishment. You gather up the cards and I’m going to walk into the kitchen and do some deep breathing exercises until serenity drapes over my shoulders. We’ll play something else in a few minutes — but not Sorry! — just get those Uno cards out of my sight because I said so!

Because That Water Is Cold And Deep And Even After Three Sets of Swimming Lessons You Drop Like an Anchor in the Water And I Don’t Want to Be on the TV News

How long do you think it would take for me to row to the island? Should we explore it? Do you think dragons live there? They might. Whoops, this rowboat is trickier than I thought it would be. Can one of you tell me if I’m pointed at the island? I can’t see where I’m going. Yep, it’s sunny out on the lake. Nothing to make shade out here. You’d feel even hotter if you were the one doing the rowing, trust me. I’m sorry you’re hot, but you have to keep the lifejacket on. I know it makes you sweaty. Look, I can’t really argue about this right now, rowing is a lot harder than it looks. Just — hey, don’t unclip the buckle. You need to keep the lifejacket on. Look, I’m wearing mine. Let’s be twins. Let your sister help you out. I can’t scoot over there, I’ll make the back of the boat sink into the water. No, don’t walk over to me, the whole boat tips back and forth — you’ll lose your balance. OK, no dragon hunting today, back to the shore. We can’t be out here if you won’t wear a lifejacket. Why? Because I said so!

boy eating spaghetti

Because I’ve Asked You Nicely To Chew With Your Mouth Closed Literally 7,312 Times

I see you’re enjoying the meal I made for you. It looked like spaghetti and meatballs on your plate. In your mouth it looks like what came out of the garbage disposal that time it got jammed. We’ve talked about this, buddy. Take small bites. No one is going to steal your dinner. Put the food in your mouth, close your lips and chew normally. There’s no need to make such exaggerated, smacking, pogo-stick movements with your jaw. I take your enthusiastic gluttony as a compliment to my cooking, but please don’t finish this food-painting you’re making. Just say, “thanks Dad.” I could tie a bandana around my head and eat blindfolded I suppose, but I’d need to pop in a couple of earplugs, too. And what would the neighborhood political canvassers say if they happened to peer into the big front window and witness that scene? Maybe they’d at least cross our address off the list. Still, I’d rather not eat next to a miniature great white land shark. Look at how I do it: small bites, closed lips, gentle chewing. Now you try, pretty please, one more time because I said so!

Because Who Cares About the End Of Curious George You Know How It Ends. The Man Forgives Him And They Hug And Laugh Even Though George Is An Asshole. So I’m Watching the Game Now

I’ll give you a spoiler here: It’s all going to end happily. George never gets hurt, he never stays in trouble for long, and he always gets a second chance. If this were the real world, George would have caused thousands of dollars worth of property damage and not a few traffic fatalities. But in Curious George’s world, everything works out just fine. We only have one television, and it’s going to be tuned to my team of loveable, hateable losers while they lose at football. That’s what’s happening for the next three hours. You can sit here with me and cheer loudly or you can go throw yourself on your bed and gnash your teeth in anguish over the unresolved story of George And The Filthy Swimming Pool. George is fine! The man with the yellow hat is fine! Their weird, co-dependent, Stockholm-syndrome relationship is fine! Now get over here and eat some chips and dip. It’s kickoff time, and we’re watching football because I said so!

boy feeding squirrel

Because I Don’t Want To Cut The Camping Trip Short to Take You to The Emergency Room For a Rabies Shot and Stitches

Haha, that sure is a funny little squirrel. He’s not afraid of people at all, is he? Look, he jumped right up onto the picnic table! I bet lots of campers have fed him. No nuts for this guy over here. I swear he’s sniffing the smell of frying bacon on the breeze. No honey, we can’t feed the squirrel your scrambled eggs. Look, I don’t know if squirrels even eat eggs — we don’t want him to get a tummy ache. Please just eat your eggs yourself. Well, you were hungry 30 seconds ago when I put the plate in front of you, so I’m sure you’re still hungry now. I’ve gotta get the orange juice from the cooler in the car. Don’t feed the squirrel. Hey! I see you holding those eggs out to him! Didn’t I just tell you not to do that? I made those eggs for you to eat, and you better get started. Besides, you don’t feed wild animals from your own hand, I don’t care what you saw in that movie with the princess. How do you know he’s nice? You don’t know him at all! You just met him! He could be the meanest squirrel in the forest! Now feed your eggs to yourself and not to the squirrel because I said so!

Because I’m Just Trying To Read Quietly and You Keep Crinkling the Pages of Your Book in a Barely Audible But Intensely Annoying Manner and I’m Going to Snatch it Out of Your Hands And Throw it Into the Street

This is nice. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy sitting next to you on the couch, reading together. It’s poignant. I hope you’re enjoying that novel about wizards or sorcery or whatever it is. The book I’m reading is unbelievable. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s a book-within-a-book concept, but the author slides in and out of different voices effortlessly, and the storylines are all charging together in such a way that I can’t figure out how it’s going to end, but I’m sure I’ll get there soon because the prose just propels you onward, chapter after chapter so that — oh my god enough already! You’re doing that thing where you hold the corner of the page and crinkle-click it back and forth, back and forth, clickclickclick and at first I didn’t notice because I was so engrossed in this book, and then I did notice but didn’t say anything — live and let live, after all — but then you kept at it and there is no sound at all in the world except the clickclickclick you’re making, which I’ve pointed out to you before, and maybe that’s why you’re doing it now, to troll me during this very poignant father-daughter quality time, but you better cut it out right now because I said so!