January 30 14

“I can’t believe I’m sending my child to school dressed like a ragamuffin!”

“I am so perturbed right now, girls, I’m going to sell you to the gypsies.”

“Do you have any idea how many hours I have to work to pay for this closet full of clothing that you never wear—the jeans and tops and sweaters and dresses that still have the tags on them that you begged and begged and begged me to buy for you?”

“Do not make me pull this car over!!!”

“Were you raised in a barn?”

“I have had it up to HERE!”

“You cannot go out with wet hair—you will catch a death of cold!”

—Ali’s mom, circa anywhere between 1978…and today.


Apparently, as I a wee lass, I was a cold-catching, barn-raised, wet-haired ragamuffin who was maybe, possible getting sold to the gypsies whenever my mom had it up to HERE.

Now, if I’m being honest, I have in the recent past told my son that I was going to send him to military school and I have told my daughters that I’m going to google finishing schools to send them to after watching them eat soup with their fingers, but sold to the gypsies?!?

Of course, as I do with all of my best head-scratchers, I took to Twitter and Facebook to find out if other people’s mothers threatened to sell them to the gypsies as well. Social media, as it’s apt to do, confirmed my suspicions—many, many moms in the ’80s had similar gypsy-related threats. Some were told they were bought from the gypsies, and some were told they’d be sold to them. It seems, like Cabbage Patch Kids sales, gypsy sales were super prevalent back then.

I’m honestly shocked that I haven’t heard it on The Goldbergs yet.

There’s even a poem by Shel Silverstein called The Gypsies Are Coming in Where The Sidewalk Ends.

The gypsies are coming, the old people say,
To buy little children and take them away
Fifty cents for fat ones
Twenty cents for lean ones
Fifteen cents for dirty ones
Thirty cents for clean ones
A nickel each for mean ones…

{Interestingly, the poem got changed from The Gypsies to The Googies at some point. Maybe it was when she told Shel Silverstein that gypsy selling is actually not just a thing that moms say in frustration, but something sort of sad and newsworthy.}

My mom once told me that my outfit made me look like Omar The Tentmaker.


There’s no rhyme-y poem (or photo evidence thank god) to go with that one but I bet he would have been super useful on the set of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Or The Ten Commandments. Or, uh, a hipster toga party?


And then!

Just this morning, before the coffee kicked in and before I sent them off to school it just rolled off of my tongue. I didn’t even realize it was happening until all of the words were out on there display, for the whole world to see, and for my kids to throw in their back pockets as material for when they write their blog post in 2034 about all of the ridiculous things their mom used to say.


“Do you have any idea how many hours I have to work to pay for this closet full of clothing that you never wear—the jeans and tops and sweaters and dresses that still have the tags on them that you begged and begged and begged me to buy for you?”

I guess I am my mom


And I’m probably sending at least one to school looking like a ragamuffin, just after I google finishing schools.

  1. I still love we were told to go play on the railroad tracks when we were annoying our parents. I still don’t understand why we never did! I was so literal as a kid, it’s a good thing I never did!

    Comment by Kristabella on January 30, 2014
  2. Just the other night I explained what boarding school was to my kids. What I left out was that we totally can’t afford it. 😉

    Comment by Sandy on January 30, 2014
  3. Josh gets incredibly nervous when I mentioned military school. I think he believes I might actually do it. Haaaaaaa.

    Comment by ali on January 30, 2014
  4. My son isn’t scared he knows better than to get in trouble, it’s my daughter who is a contender and she’s terrified. 😉

    Comment by Sandy on January 30, 2014
  5. I was also threatened with the scary gypsy prospect. The 80s were a crazy time for my mom, I guess. O_o

    Comment by Alex on January 30, 2014
  6. Ha, I had no idea that ol’ Shel Silverstein had written a poem geared towards gypsies taking kids away from their disgruntled parents. Good stuff. 🙂

    Comment by aly on January 30, 2014
  7. I knew it was over for me, when I said: BECAUSE MY CHILDREN WILL NOT ACT LIKE THAT!

    Yeah…that was my dads favorite line and I SWORE I’d never ever use it. Turns out it’s pretty handy. Much better than me being honest and saying: well see your friends/kids on the playground/Jumpstreet were obviously raised by effing morons or not parented at all and over my dead body will I ever let you act like that. Ahem.

    Comment by Issa on January 30, 2014
  8. We were told to, “go to grass and let the cows eat you!” Which I didn’t fully understand until I was an adult.

    But alas, I did sit in the grass with the cows while on holiday in England and they appeared to have no interest in eating me or anyone else. Ha!

    Comment by shannon on January 30, 2014
  9. I totally use the word ragamuffin. 🙂

    Comment by Angella on January 31, 2014
  10. I know it’s not very uncommon but my Mom’s favourite was the “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” line. This line use to drive me CRAZY! “What do you mean GIVE me something… IM ALREADY CRYING!! I HAVE A REASON!!!” I swore I would never use this with my kids. So obviously I did… I was mortified.

    Comment by Heather Anne on January 31, 2014
  11. PS. I am adding the word ‘ragamuffin” to my momism vocabulary.

    Comment by Heather Anne on January 31, 2014
  12. LOL I didn’t know that I’d become the bad ‘SHE’ in your blog posts now. I guess I’m getting a reputation as a naysayer and dreamcrasher. Am I like the ‘they’ that define all fashion choices?

    Comment by mara on February 7, 2014
  13. I only link to people I love 😉

    Comment by Alimartell on February 7, 2014

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