Farm Progress

The Home Front: Every family has a catchphrase or two that, when spoken, bring back a flood of memories.

John and Kendra Smiley

February 15, 2017

2 Min Read
CATCHPHRASES: In the Smiley family, John could often be heard asking, “Can you explain to me … ?” Meanwhile, Kendra’s favorite: “Crisis averted!”

There’s a game called “Catch Phrase.” It can be found on the self in our coat closet along with, hmm  … I have no idea how many other games are on that shelf. I purchased them when I was a senior high youth leader and felt it was my duty to have an abundance of games and meeting ideas at my fingertips. "Catch Phrase" was just one of those resources.

Even though I can’t remember the precise rules of the game, the name itself gives an idea of what is necessary to win. Players have to correctly identify various phrases after receiving hints from members of their team.

Catchphrases — yes, it’s a game, but every family has them, too. They’re sentences or phrases that are repeated over and over; things parents say to their kids so often that the words go down in infamy.

About a year ago, I discovered that one such catchphrase could legitimately be credited to me. If my memory is correct, we were camping with several families, including our three grown sons and their families. At some point, one of our kids was addressing his own child and said the words he’d heard from me more than once while he was growing up. “Can you explain to me … ? (Fill in the blank.)

Working together on the farm gave me more than one opportunity to ask that question. “Can you explain to me why you didn’t stop before you ran over your brother’s leg with the empty fencing cart?” “Can you explain to me how you didn’t see the fence post before you hit it with the cultivator?”

His brothers, sitting around the campfire that day, heard those words directed to one of their nieces and couldn’t resist the temptation to engage in countless impersonations of me. I was amazed and amused by how precise they were — down to my timing, intonation and facial expressions. (And I wondered how well their kids would do repeating that catchphrase in 20 years or so!)

Every family has a catchphrase or two that, when spoken, bring back a flood of memories — good, bad or ugly.  One of my favorites has always been “Crisis averted.” I’m guessing that one needs no further explanation.

And just to clarify, no bones were broken in the first example John gave. The older kids explained that the cart was empty, the ground was soft, and their little brother should have rolled out of the way.

As for his other example: “No, John, I can’t explain why I didn’t see the fence post before I hit it. Why was there a fence post in my way in the first place?”

Here’s hoping your catchphrases are all pleasant ones as you look forward to the new crop year, and if nothing else, you are able to confidently declare, “Crisis averted!”

John and Kendra Smiley farm near East Lynn. Email [email protected], or visit

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