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25 Things Grandmas Supposedly Say That I’ve Never Heard Them Utter

My husband’s niece delivered a beautiful — and big, 10-plus pounds! — baby boy last week. When I saw photos she’d shared of him on Instagram, I commented, “What a precious little love bug!”

To which I immediately thought to myself, “What a freakin’ grandma thing to say.”

I considered adding another comment cracking on my initial comment but figured what the heck, I am a grandma, and that’s just the kind of thing grandmas say. Which led me in my ever inquisitive way to soon after Google “things grandmas say.”

The results were sometimes hilarious, sometimes insulting, sometimes a transport back to an overheated den where my maternal grandmother conversed from her recliner (snuff cup nearby) or a back porch where my paternal grandma sat sorting through buckets of blueberries my cousins and I had collected at her command.

What I found most striking about the comments or recollections, though, was that many of the comments on what grandmas say seemed contributed by millennials or younger generations. Kids who don’t (or didn’t) have grandmas as old as mine, but more likely grandmas as old as I am now at the time they supposedly spouted such statements.

Which I find odd. Because much of what the writers or commenters reported their grandmas say (or said) are things I — a grandma — have never said. In fact, most were things I’ve never heard any of my fellow grandmothers say either! Maybe our grandmas did, but not us.

I’m not here to call baloney on what the kids shared, but c’mon! Here’s a smidgen of quotes that they say their grandmothers have said over the years.

• Eat your carrots… they’ll help you see in the dark.

• Shut the door! Were you born in a barn?

• Pull up your britches.

• You need some meat on your bones.

• Finish your food. Don’t you know there are starving children in Africa?

• Sit up straight.

• Now don’t spend it all in one place.

• More than you can shake a stick at.

• Use a little elbow grease.

• Be sure to wash behind your ears.

• For Pete’s sake!

• She’s no spring chicken.

• Hand me my pocket book.


• Don’t do that, sweetie. Your face will stick that way.

• Living in sin.

• Have a seat on the davenport.

• Do you need to piddle?

• Oh my stars!

• Quit fiddle fartin’ around.

• You need some patches on those pants.

• Ain’t ain’t a word.

• I wasn’t born yesterday.

• That’s enough from the peanut gallery.

• Who wants the gizzard?

Now, I realize I’m not often around my grandma friends when they’re on grandma duty, so what they say to their sweeties may be far different from what I assume. Still, I simply can’t imagine women near my age, women with similar grandma styles and inclinations, utter expressions as old-fashioned as those above. Seems yet another grandma stereotype, if you ask me. If you do say such things, though, please fess up and share your favorites.

Grandma stereotype theory declared, I admit having no illusions that current grandmothers don’t spout equally groan- and giggle-worthy words of wisdom, worry, and wit. We undoubtedly have our own oft-uttered phrases our grandkids will one day share — and fondly recall — when asked what their grandmas used to say.

Which leads me to ask you to fess up, too: What phrases might your grandchildren claim, now or later, are purely and perfectly you?

This essay originally appeared on and was written by Lisa Carpenter, a baby boomer, grandparent, parent to adult children, wife, and writer. Follow her on Facebook.

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