Even though I know better

By Mir
January 11, 2010

It’s a standard joke ’round here that the first thing out of the mouth of a child who just did something ill-advised is “But I just—” I’m never sure where they think that’s going to take them; somehow that phrase is meant to be justification and yet, it never is. They do persist in using it, though.

Otto and I have adapted it as well, and it has more or less come to mean “Wow I did something dumb and inexcusable but by saying this phrase I shall communicate that I’m hoping you might not notice.” It is amusing to us.

[Note: Not quite as amusing as the still oft-used “Gorgonzola!”, but close.]

Anyway, I seem to be having an awful lot of “But I just—” in my own life, lately.

Here is but a partial list of things I may or may not have done recently that fall under the umbrella of “I should and probably do know better than this,” and yet, I persist.

Coloring my hair at home. Nothing good every comes of this. NOTHING. I’m all “it costs too much at the salon” and “maybe this time I’ll get it right” and you know what? It’s pretty expensive to have to keep buying different brands/and colors, desperately seeking on that will actually cover my gray, and no, actually, I will NEVER get it right, because I am pretty sure my gray hair is actually MAGICAL and impervious to mere mortal hair dyes.

Smelling the dog’s breath to see if she’s been eating deer poop. If I suspect the dog of eating deer poop, WHY OH WHY would I then attempt to smell it? On purpose, even? Particularly when my nose in the vicinity of her snout causes Licorice to believe I need a good sinus cleaning, if you know what I mean. (Based upon the collective gagging noises I just heard, I think you do.)

Baking bread for my family even though I can’t have wheat any more. Oh, I like the way it smells and it makes them happy and it sort of makes me feel like a nice person and everything, but invariably fresh bread on the table means Monkey doesn’t want to eat anything else, and that I end up feeling like a martyr even though no one held a gun to my head and forced me to start baking. (It’s possible I have issues. I’m aware.)

Saying anything at all to my tween daughter other than “I love you, honey.” Everything I say is mean and bad and wrong and cause for extreme pouting. And a bunch of stuff I DON’T say is because I am mean and bad and wrong. Um, basically, I am mean and bad and wrong, and I’m considering spending the next six years in the Witness Protection Program for my own safety. Just sayin’.

Never using a shopping list. I don’t know what my problem is with shopping lists. It’s not like they’re inherently offensive, or anything. But I cannot seem to get myself organized with one. Ever. I just go to the store and know what I need and maybe I take a kid or two and start out the trip with “DO NOT LET ME LEAVE THIS STORE WITHOUT KETCHUP” or whatever, and it all works out. Sort of. Except that the last four times I’ve been grocery shopping, I’ve forgotten something I meant to buy. And it’s slowly driving me insane. Though I do have plenty of ketchup.

Not exercising first thing in the morning because I’m too tired or too busy or Mercury is in retrograde. When I don’t get that exercising out of the way first thing, OF COURSE I’m less tired or busy later on in the day, right? Right? No? Oh.

Having that second cup of coffee. No, I like it when my heart beats really fast. It’s cardio for when I’m here at my desk. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT I’M FINE WHAT WAS THAT NOISE??

(But I just—oh, nevermind.)


  1. natasha the exile on Mom Street

    Around here “But I just” can invariably be finished with “was doing exactly what you told me not to do!”

    Except he never says that part.

    I just attempted home hair color for the first time on Sunday. My grays are MOSTLY gone. That’s a win, right?

  2. elz

    Thanks for the laugh. I have to tell you I was with you on the home hair color (not for grays, oh no, not me!). But, then I discovered F Fekai color and the angels in heaven started singing. At least you can cross one issue off your list. Also, when you go to Sephora to buy it, you can say But I just went in to buy color, I don’t know how those lipsticks jumped in my bag!!

  3. Leandra

    “But I just” is obviously a multi-purpose phrase because in my house the kids use it when I ask them to do something and they say “But I just wanted to finish watching this show” or “But I just need to do….” whatever.

    I’m a long-time self hair colorer but lately I’ve been screwing up every time. The last three times I’ve colored my hair I 1) chose a different brand than normal with disastrous results 2) spilled half the stuff before I added the colorant and 3) forgot to add the oil packet thingy to colorant. Dude, that oil packet thing is in there for a REASON. Dark brown straw, anyone?

  4. Amelia

    And are you familiar with its sister clause, “I’m just sayin'”? This one is best used right after you’ve said something rude or otherwise bone-headed but are too stubborn to admit it. I’m just sayin’.

  5. Lori N

    Living with a preteen is fun, isn’t it.

    Apparently I am the worst mother in the world because I wouldn’t let my healthy daughter climb into my bed and lie next to my sick son while I brushed my teeth. (And no, being cuddled into blankets at the end of the bed in a specially made nest is NOT the same thing.)

    Apparently the fact that my 5 year old is sick is a personal affront to my daughter. Who knew that having a fever and feeling miserable and getting to lay in momma’s bed for 5 whole minutes is better than being healthy and getting to go to school and see one’s friends? (Jealousy and selfishness, thy name is 10 year old girl)

  6. Megan

    Meh, at least you have the ability to CHOOSE to smell the dog’s breath. My Irish Setter used to show love and affection by pressing his snout into your nose and then sighing. Heavily. Right after having shoved said snout up the business end of a skunk. And inhaling. Deeply. Wanna know what skunk spray smells like when combined with Setter Sinus Gunk? You wanna?

    Yah, neither did I.

  7. Dawn

    The list-less trip to the grocery store is referred to in my house as “buying $95 cheese” from the time we went “just to buy some cheese” and came out with $95 worth of groceries.

  8. ks grandma

    About the bread: I decided to try Bob’s Red Mill wheat free, gluten free, dairy free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix. I kinda’ figured even if it was a bust, it would be cheaper than gathering all of the individual ingredients and you know, still suffering a bust. Amazingly, I was delightfully surprised! (Individual ingredient gathering might not be so tedious/expensive for some, but from my rural abode, we’re talking major road trip to store(s) that “might” have everything I’m looking for.) At any rate, I found the mix on Amazon. I think it will also tolerate some tweaking for additional taste treats. Adding herbs perhaps? Just what your 10 in 10 self wanted to hear? Your welcome. (Might make a good mid-March victory celebration treat.) Just sayin’.

  9. Headless Mom

    Shit. I’ve been meaning to add hair dye to my list. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Lucinda

    Ok, my daughter is only 8 and I’m already mean and bad and horrible and I hate her. So what will she be like at 11 or 12? Seriously? I’m scared.

    I’ll second the Bob’s Red Mill Wonderful Bread Mix. For a gf bread mix, it ain’t bad and will fill your house with wonderful bread smell too. Although you might want to wait until you’ve made it through your weight loss challenge. Why make things harder?

  11. Sheila

    Hey, Headless Mom: why would you need hair dye?


    (Sorry. I crack myself up sometimes. And yes, it usually is just me laughing.)

  12. Half Assed Kitchen

    Cardio at your desk. Heh. That is exactly where my brain would go with it too.

    I think with hair coloring you just have to bite the bullet and get it done professionally. I die a little inside every time, but it’s better than looking like my four-year-old went to town on my head with bleach.

  13. JennyM

    After the Great “No, I Didn’t Mean For It To Be Black” Debacle, which was closely followed by the Infamous “Turns Out Too Much Bleach WILL Make Your Hair Fall Out” Fiasco, I have never again attempted coloring my hair myself.

    Therefore, I submit that that particular “but I just” is susceptible to change due to royal, catastrophic failure. You should haven’t gotten it wrong enough yet.

  14. JennyM

    You “should”?

    Not sure where that came from. I meant: You just haven’t gotten it wrong enough yet.

  15. Karen

    lOL… Mir, if these are your biggest blunders, you’re living the High life. I’m just saying.

  16. Lise

    My hair is naturally dark brown with a whole lot of gray in it. I dye it auburn and do it myself because I’m way too cheap to pay someone else to do it. I use Feria, because it gives different shades with a one-step process. Since I started using that brand, I’m often asked if I have the temper to go with my red hair. (I always answer “No, Loreal doesn’t put that in the box.”

  17. Burgh Baby

    I made four trips to the grocery store this weekend. I’ll be stopping on the way home for Boca crumbles because somehow they didn’t magically appear in my cart. DAMMIT.

  18. Andrea

    You can’t trust the pros with your hair color either. In the 80s, my long-trusted stylist told he he’d like to do a foil to add “golden highlights.” I ended up looking more “golden halo” than my pre-foil imagined California chic. It glowed…really…no really.

    What a nightmare. And it would not wash out–at all!! Little did I know that a month later, when I went in for a perm (exactly) that the entire process would totally strip the glow from my head of hair. Merciful Zeus, had I only known!

    I can not speak to the deer poop breath. You’re on your own there.

  19. feefifoto

    Maybe we could trade tweens and your daughter would let me say stuff to her while my son would let you say stuff to him?

  20. Pam

    Ah, you got me – here I am sitting at my desk right now, in my exercise clothes, thinking I’ll just do the emails and sort those photos and have a quick look at the blogs…

    And then it’s lunchtime and I’m still in my exercise clothes and unwashed and unbreakfasted even.

    Favourite saying in my house is “I was just GOING to!” which absolves the sayer from any sin of omission, plus it implies nagging and hence martyrdom. My kids learnt it from my husband.

  21. Nicki

    Yeah, and if I were smart, I’d learn from you, but alas, I continue to make similar said errors. The hair dying (spelled that way because I do seem to kill it a bit each time) is improving. Looks like hair! But really, I’m just a big mess, like everyone else.

    Good news. You’re normal. And average. And maybe even run of the mill. I’ll have to check with HIM.

  22. Julie in Austin

    I have a grocery list solution for you and all other iPhone users out there!! There are many good grocery list apps for the iPhone – I use one called Grocery Gadget, and it has helped me so much! You can sync it to your home computer so you can build the bulk of your list at your computer, but you don’t need to – you can just use the iphone only if you like. You can make a different list for each store – Costco, Home Depot, Grocery Store (HEB here in Austin), Pets, etc. There is a large database of items already, plus you can add whatever you like and categorize it how you like. I like it because I almost always have my iPhone in my pocket, so when I randomly realize “Hey, I’m out of ….” I don’t have to chase down my shopping list in my drawer, purse, or car in order to add the thing I thought of. You can also include photos you take with your camera, so if you keep forgetting exactly which type of deodorant your husband likes you have the photo attached to the list item. If your significant other has an iPhone too, you can send lists to them (another place where photos of exactly what you mean can come in handy). If you are on a tight grocery budget, you can also spend a little time keying in prices for each store for the items you buy there, and depending on the quantity you put on your list, it will estimate how much you will spend. Anyway, I hope this helps! It has made my life easier for the past year, although I can’t figure out how to get it to yell “PUT THE CHIPS BACK ON THE SHELF!” =)

  23. Jenn

    You mean as in: “But I just…wanted to clean the kleenex fuzz off the ipod case”? I didn’t mean to create static electricity that might have fried the whole thing. (but fortunately didn’t) Nope, can’t relate at all. (ahem)

    And I happily write the checks for professional hair color because it’s so much easier than trying to find both a sitter and a stylist who can do a corrective on short notice.

  24. Heidi

    Hey, if it helps any, Mercury won’t be retrograde as of Friday morning…

  25. MamaChristy

    Grocery IQ for the iPhone is only 99 cents now. Takes a little set up, but you won’t forget things (as much). :)

  26. just beaux

    Around here we all yell. “Door please!” It means exactly that. Whoever gets to the door first yells, “Door please” and whoever is standing there has to open it for them. It’s when we’re in public that people start to stare.

    “Did you just see what that little girl did? And her mom stood right there and opened the door for her!”

    I guess you have to really be there.

  27. Flea

    I have plenty of bread crumbs.

  28. mom, again

    pay for the hair color stuff. Really. I got my first grey hairs at 16! and after coloring it myself for many many years possibly adding up to 16, one time I paid to have it done.

    And, it turned out well. my arms didn’t go numb applying the stuff. none of the dye got onto any of the woodwork in my bathroom, nor the floor, sink, counter or walls. (Between myself and my daughters getting dye spots here, there and everywhere, I need to stain the cabinets in the main bathroom a nice dark auburn shade. How loud do you think the guys at Home Depot will laugh when I take in a box of hair dye to ‘match’?? At least we all use generally the same shade.)

  29. Debra

    I just read somewhere a quote that went something like “The angst filled teenage years are given to us Mothers so that we don’t feel so sad when our children leave the nest.”

    By the time the college years come you are ready to boot their little butts right out the door and change the locks.

    Hang in there. It’ll get better. It may take a few years, but it will get better.

  30. Sharon

    Leave hair color to the professionals. It ends up costing more to fix the mess you’ve made.

  31. adhocmom

    You must put the hair dye back at the pharmacy. I have finally learned to do this and am much better for it.

  32. Jess H

    Gorgonzola is a pretty awesome “curse.” I have one that invariably makes anyone in hearing range collapse in a heap of giggles on the floor. “Crumb bunnies!” This is le fact. I work in a book store, and a customer came in looking for a book in paperback. I told her it was only in hardcover, and she looked all crestfallen, heaved a sigh, and uttered, “Crumb bunnies!” I had to sit down on the floor behind the counter so she wouldn’t see me convulsing with laughter at her expense. Your welcome.

  33. Jen

    Our version of “But I just” is an actual quote uttered by one of my children: “No one TOLD me it was Responsibility Month!”

  34. MomCat

    I hear you on the huffy daughter issue. Mine came downstairs in a sleeveless, cotton dress and sandals today. It was 34 degrees outside. I’m *so* the meanest mother in the world, because I made her change. (Having a Mama-conniption still works when used sparingly, at least for a few more years.) (And also, Oh, for the days of school uniforms! Alas!)

  35. Katie in MA

    I tried sharing my “But I just…” file with my 5-year-old the other night when I was trying to offer encourage during homework time. Her answer? “But you NEVER mess up, Mom!” I spent ten minutes trying to convince her I was mortal. Heh. I should have taped it and replay it (endlessly) in about 8 years.

  36. mamaspeak

    Grocery stores: I started a once a week policy a couple years ago. I go to the grocery store once a week. If I forget it, we’re outta luck till next week. (Even things like milk. We’ll survive.) I also, will only go to ONE grocery store a week. Between Trader Joe’s, Costco & Safeway I was visiting all of them for specific things every week. (How this all started.) It was crazy & expensive.
    To help w/this I created a grocery list that is tacked to the fridge. When we run out of something it gets highlighted on the list. If it’s not on there, I hand write it & when I print it out the next week I type it in before printing. Amazing how well this works for us. Before going to the store, I grab my list, give a the pantry & fridge a once over for anything low & go. We are saving so much money this way it’s not funny.
    If forgetting the list is really your problem, well then, the phone apps might be a better bet for you. But I am cheap, so I print a list & highlight.
    I have a tendency to over buy for my pantry (soup sale, two cans of beans when I really only need 1, etc..) If it turns out I can’t make what I’ve planned for the week, I go to the pantry & make do w/what we have. Sometimes we have soup or scrambled eggs, instead of something more “complete”. But we survive & save money & time. I’ll send you the list if you’re interested,(so you don’t have to create your own.) Because I happen to know you’re on the frugal side too. ;-)

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