My mom said this to me the other day and I had sudden flashbacks of my youth.
I’m sure every adult has some phrase that they remember their parents saying to them when they were a child. Mine is: “Hold your horses.”
I wasn’t a super rowdy kid, but when there was something I wanted to do, I wanted to do it five minutes ago. Particularly if it was watching a movie or eating macaroni and cheese. If it was watching a movie whilst eating macaroni and cheese? Well then, I would be downright wired. There would be a lot of jumping up and down involved, perhaps a little singing. And my parents would laugh and say, “Hold your horses.”
Now, I’ve mentioned before that my thinking pattern tends to be a visual/audible mixture. There have always been pictures involved. For whatever reason, though, when I heard this, I never got any pictures of horses. I do now, but it’s still not the right picture. I don’t see myself or anybody else sitting at the reins of a carriage, holding the horses still. Nope, I first picture myself actually holding a horse, like in swaddling. Very weird, yes. But that’s where my mind goes first. This is a recent development, as a kid there was nothing. Not one picture.
Somewhere along the line, though, I got it into my head that “hold your horses” meant “hold your shoulders.” For the very life of me, I can not explain to you why. I have no recollection of when I first came to this decision. My best guess is that maybe one of my parents put their hands on my shoulders to stop me from bouncing through the ceiling once when they were saying it. Regardless of the origin of this weird thought process, I was convinced.
Every time my parents said “hold your horses,” my hands would immediate go to my shoulders. I would stand there, bursting with barely controlled energy, but, you know, still holding my horses.
After awhile, my sister started doing it as well (one more example of me leading her away from the path of logic and truth, and miring her solidly in the wild jungle of my imaginings). My parents, of course, took notice of the strange behavior and asked what we were doing. I looked up at them, laughed, and said, “Holding our horses.” I’ll admit, I was a little confused why they would ask when we were doing what they just told us to do.
My favorite part of this whole story is that, at this point, my parents did not correct us. We went on for another few years grabbing our shoulders every time they said “hold your horses.” Later, when I finally came to the realization that I was, in fact, a lunatic, I asked them why they hadn’t informed me of this earlier. The prevailing response was, “It was so cute.”
I did, of course, grow out of this habit. Mostly. But on the rare occasion that I hear someone uttering that magic phrase, there is still a tiny part of me that has to stifle the urge to rest my hands upon my shoulders. And on those very rare days that my six year old self overpowers the grown-up me and I do find my hands in that general vicinity? Well, then, I turn that bad boy into a full arm stretch and hope no one asks about the hesitation around the clavicle area.