By Kate Larrabee, author of Daffoldil’s

Well, if you wouldn’t put your fingers in his mouth, then the puppy wouldn’t bite you.

If you would take a nap, then you wouldn’t be so grumpy.

As the mother of a 17-month-old, I feel like the majority of my day is spent filling in the blanks of “If…Then.” It is such simple and matter of fact advice; I don’t understand why I have to say it over and over, and over and over again. And as I feel myself getting frustrated that he just won’t listen to me, I also realize another thing: I’m turning into my mother.

When I was 10, 12, 13, 16, 18, 21, my mother gave me similar advice and if I had just listened to her, I would have stayed out of a lot of trouble, and avoided a lot of fights. I can clearly remember at each age, my mother so matter of factly pleading with me the way I now plead with my son.

Age 10: Well, if you wanted to go to Sally’s party, then you should have cleaned your room 3 days ago like I told you too.

Age 12: If you didn’t want to get in trouble, then you shouldn’t have played truth or dare with the 14 year olds. {In reference to a tree humping incident… how did she keep a straight face??}

Age 13: Well, if you are going to make the bad decision to write notes during science, you shouldn’t leave them where the teacher can see them.

Age 16: If you want your freedom, you need to prove you deserve it. Also, you shouldn’t leave half written emails open on the family computer that brag about the really stupid decisions you made last night.

Age 18: Well, if you didn’t want to gain 25 pounds, then you shouldn’t have eaten mac n’ cheese, ‘today’s special’, stir fry, a chicken biscuit and ice cream for lunch at the all-you-can-eat dining hall. Hope you like salads, because that is what you’ll be eating all summer.

Age 21: If you didn’t date him in the first place like I told you to, then you wouldn’t be crying over breaking up.

Age 26 ½: Maybe you should just tell your husband how you are feeling, instead of getting so stressed out thinking about it.

Yep, true story. As a mom, it all makes complete, perfect, simple sense. As a child (even a grown up one), it sounds controlling, ridiculous and insensitive. But I have accepted that this exchange will most likely consume the rest of my life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tell my child that if he wouldn’t put the net on his head, then he wouldn’t get stuck in it.