Folk Belief – American

“If you cross your eyes, they are going to remain like that”

My informant first heard this phrase when at the age of thirteen (circa 1968) she would be upset with what her mother had to say or how her mother said something, so she would cross her eyes at her mom.  Her mother reacted by telling my informant “if you cross your eyes, they are going to remain like that.”  This sent a message to my informant to not cross her eyes, not because they would really get stuck, but because it was a sign of disrespect to cross your eyes at someone.

This phrase is heard all over the place, because in our generation it is extremely common for teenagers to have a lot of attitude and disagree with his/her parents.  It seems as though generations have changed over the years, but in terms of respect and disrespect between parents and their children, that will never change.  Teenagers have the mentality that they are as mature as his or her parents, but in actuality, this is definitely not the case.  Parents are older and wiser for a reason; they have lived through much more than their children and know what they are talking about.

The reason why this is so important in Sheryl’s world today is because she heard it from her mother.  Her mother passed away over eight years ago, so little things such as phrases her mother used to say mean a lot to her.  The reason why myths continue is because they are passed on over the generations, and for this reason it is common to hear this phrase all over the United States.

When asked her reaction to the myth, my informant chuckled and continued by saying “of course it’s not going to happen.”  My informant explained to me that it is a way of you not doing it again.  If you hear this phrase once, it will make you not cross your eyes again.  She finished the discussion by telling me it is a matter of respect.

Finally, my reaction to this myth is that it is completely false.  It is one of the dumbest myths I have ever heard, but because it is a myth, which means that someone believes it.  I am not quite sure how someone could think it is true, but nonetheless it is a myth that teaches a valuable lesson.