If there’s one thing that moms are known for being good at, it’s comforting people. They’ll often say things like “Don’t be mad at Billy, pity him; his parents are ugly, and someday, he will be too,” or “bike accidents only happen to people who are bad on the inside.”

But, try as they might, they can’t turn every bad situation into puppies and king-size candy bars. Sometimes, they just don’t have a clue what they are talking about.


Cleaning toilets never hurt anyone

cleaning toilets

Great. Now we have to be scared of the thing that was closest to our hearts.

Why it is supposed to be comforting: Moms are fond of the “never hurt/killed anyone” argument. They assume that it’s guaranteed to make you feel so much better that the activity you have been unfairly assigned has not been known to permanently disfigure, maim, or end the life of anyone (yet?). At least, they know it won’t make you feel any worse.

Why it really isn’t: Well, how about the fact that at least one guy has nearly killed himself cleaning the toilet?

We’re assuming that, since the mom in question is trying to get her offspring to do the dirty deed instead of doing it herself, she’s not going to be watching them every step of the way. And we all know that kids have many things that they’d rather be doing than scrubbing feces off of porcelain, so we can’t expect them to carefully peruse the warning labels on the cleaning products they decide to use. And hey, if one bottle is good, two are better, and more is best!

Except when it comes to this sneaky little formula: 2(parts)NaOCl + 2NH3 –> 2NaONH3 + Cl2. That’s what you get when you mix chlorine (found in bleach) with ammonia (a common household cleaning agent): toxic chlorine gas, the same sort of thing used to kill soldiers during the Great War. Happy scrubbing!


Spinach will make you grow nice and strong!


And apparently give you elbow nipples.

Why it is supposed to be comforting: This is a version of the “eat it, it’s good for you” argument. Now, moms know that all kids want to be superheroes, and so there’s a good chance that the strength argument will work out to their advantage. If Peter Parker had to get bitten by a nightmare-inducing radioactive spider, then your kid will probably put up with swallowing down a few bites of shudder-inducing green sludge if given the promise of greatness.

Why it really isn’t: Sure, spinach has lots of vitamins, and it will give you a chance to get stronger – if by “stronger” you mean “better at getting your bowels to stop disgorging themselves all over the place.”

That’s because spinach has, on several occasions, been the source of E. Coli outbreaks. The problem with spinach is that all those folds that hold the good-for-you-ness also are especially good at harboring bacteria as well. Jeez, Spiderman never had to put up with anything worse than a rash.


When I was your age, things were much harder

your age

Why does snow always get such a bad rap?

Why it’s supposed to be comforting: Ever heard something along these lines: “When I was your age, I had to walk five miles uphill to and from school every day in the snow, with no shoes and only a chunk of mold to eat”? Or: “Back then, we didn’t have any fancy ‘interphones’ or whatever you call them. When we wanted to talk to someone far away, we had to yell really, really, loud”?

Moms want us to believe that life was so, so much harder in the past than it is now. We’re supposed to feel better because we don’t have to live in those depressing times. They think that the horror invoked by the thought of ages past will make taking out the trash seem blissful in comparison.

Why it really isn’t: Stress has always been around, but it wasn’t until the 1990’s that it really became an essential factor that scientists and doctors took into account when thinking about human health. So yeah, things might have been physically harder way back when, but mentally, our fragile, young brains have it much harder than in the past, what with the daily experience of being pummeled to a juicy gray-matter pulp. The constant overstimulation we endure makes it impossible for us to focus on anything. We even get the joy of experiencing withdrawal symptoms if the constant stimulus is removed.

For example, Mom might have had to walk more in her youth, but she never had to walk her brain through the intensity of 5000 advertising messages a day!


It’s just a scratch. :kiss: All better!


Extra special bonus points for lipstick.

Why it’s supposed to be comforting: Everyone knows that kisses are magical medicine juice, right? From an early age, we’re taught that the power of Mom’s kiss is enough to cure scrapes, staph infection, and possibly even cancer. I mean, how many of us would venture out into the wild without that kind of protection? It’s scary out there!

Why it really isn’t: The human mouth is the perfect bacteria breeding ground – warm, moist, and constantly exposed to objects contaminated with the little beasties. (We know where that finger has been!) And what better way to transfer that bacteria than by laying a nice, fat kiss onto the last place you want bacteria can be – an open wound?

That’s right: kissing an open cut can leads to infection. And, as all well-informed kids more versed in medieval medicine than modern science know, infections put you in the fast lane to gangrene and amputations. Whee!