Yes. That familiar mantra of childhood. Flung into the face of a non-comprehending parent whom, if only the spawn realized, was being equally misunderstood.
Anyway – who hasn't heard this? Or been inflicted by it? An iconic exclamation spat out, with the final letter extended like a length of measuring tape: to be drawn out as far as the situation dictated.
But 100 years ago – were children equally exasperated? Were they as quick to express their disappointment in their parents? I believe that the answers are yes and no. Children get angry with their parents – it's in their DNA. But away then no child would dare raise their voice…I suspect that more than one family had a nanny with forearms like especially meaty Honey Baked Hams.
So how did they speak loudly?
In my opinion, the eyes have it. I give you Exhibit #1:
Written on the back: "Cyril as 'Knave of Hearts' 1904" Look at that blank, furious stare. Look at that cocked elbow, the body leaning on the left leg: trying to eke out whatever dignity that can be found in a highly embarrassing pose. Look at the playing card tacked onto his kicky, no doubt bright red beret. And that – oh dear – heart dangling from his belt. When Ralphie so unwillingly walked downstairs one Christmas morning in his pink bunny suit from Aunt Clara, don't you think Cyril was looking down…in sympathy or maybe even in vindictive glee?
Which leads us to Exhibit #2. (forgive the fuzzy quality – an older photo; lesser quality) Do you think this child's 19th century mother asked her pretty daughter to cross her legs AT THE KNEE and pull up her little coat to expose a very prettily turned out calf – just as the photo was snapped? Our Alice-era model is staring boldly with her dark eyes, daring mother to come between her and the camera, the better to shield the viewing public from her black-stockinged legs.
Now, I collect lots of vintage postcards and photos – but I never was interested in images of children: except for these two. It's very rare for an older photo to express the sitter's opinion so straightly and honestly.
I love these two hooligans. I wish I knew what became of them