That Dangerous Word

We teach our children to avoid bullying words. Bad words.

However, we forget to warn them of the most dangerous word of all:

“Never” has not appeared on the official Mothers’ Wash-out-your-mouth-with-soap List. It does not throw around the weight of “antidisestablishmentarianism” or preen itself as “zygodactylus” does. “Never” is pronounceable and SCRABBLE-friendly, accommodating and safe.

Don’t believe it.

Definitely don’t say it.

Otherwise, you will join thousands who never speed — those who find themselves listening to troopers’ lectures and writing big checks.

If you diss someone’s double chin — “That will never happen to me” — you soon will trip over yours.

We exercise the least caution when referring to marriage and children — especially if single and/or childless.

I recall my early resolve never to marry a pastor like my father. Instead, I married a doctor. Soon, I realized I had not appreciated Dad’s job. No parishioner ever approached him at KFC to discuss Aunt Pearlie Mae’s hemorrhoids while I was eating mashed potatoes and gravy. Or trying to.

Likewise, if you determine your future husband will never appear in public looking like that, you will marry one who wears a sports coat to dress up sweat pants.

If you declare your wife will never buy Longaberger baskets or Gucci handbags, prepare to attend ribbon cuttings when the aforesaid companies name new plants after you.

Even used by others, “never” exerts surprising power. Sixty-plus years ago, my mother’s doctor decreed she never would have children. My four siblings and I like to think of ourselves as miracles.

“Never” takes child-rearing to brutal levels, e.g., when an expectant parent decrees, “I will never allow bedtime manipulation.” Such naïveté guarantees nursery conditions rivaling those of a POW camp. Sleepless parents make marks on the wall, hoping Baby sleeps before graduation.

Some will “never” use the TV as a babysitter — only to park kids before Barney marathons with Cheeto Pizza when desperate for romance. Or a shower.

The madness continues. Our children never will throw tantrums in restaurants, flush our phones, or cherry-bomb school restrooms.

I declared I never would be a soccer mom. At least, I wouldn’t be ejected for hassling referees.

Um. …

Enough of me. Back to you. Your children never acquire Amish beards, cleavage or tattoos, right? They never choose colleges that would bankrupt Donald Trump, bring home Chewbacca’s twin as a prospective mate, or lose your credit card in Leningrad.

Interestingly, as years accumulate, “never” diminishes. Hubby and I eat in front of the TV, our feet on the furniture. We tell fun stories, but we never repeat ourselves. Conscientious grandparents, we never spoil our grandchildren.

Above all, we never say …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What happened the last time you said “never”?

2 thoughts on “That Dangerous Word

  1. Denise Shumway

    I too have a list of nevers. I was never going to go to a state college – party schools (hear the scorn?). But I graduated from one. I was never going to have kids close together. I started my family of 5 with twins (then had 3 more all by the time those twins were 7). And my kids were never … you get the idea. They did. And worse. Thanks for a great post! I imagine God chuckling when we say never and saying, “We’ll see.” Then as things follow our course of nevers, He reminds us of who’s in charge! I believe grace follows!

    1. rachael

      Denise, So sorry to be so late in replying–especially as your comment gave me a big grin. Wow, twins! (Can’t get them much closer than that!) My word! (After that, I imagine you’d never say the word “never” again.) I agree–God probably chuckles at our naivete more than we can imagine. So glad that grace does follow!

      Thanks for your comment, and blessings on your day.


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