Basically a Toddler

Finally it’s March. I don’t know about you, but by the time we reach this point in the year, I usually feel pretty chewed up by winter. As I age, too, I find it harder and harder to endure the cold, dark months between Christmas and March. Yes, I do realize there are only two. And that one of them is short. That doesn’t make me dislike them any less.

Truthfully, though, I’m not that big a fan of March either, because in my part of the world, it behaves a little bit like a toddler. One moment it’s the sweetest: all babbling brooks and birdsong, blowing sunshine kisses. The next minute the sky starts grumbling, the temperature drops thirty degrees and before you know it every tiny hint of a bud is covered in two inches of full on tantrum ice.

The saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” may be astrological in origin. Or maybe some Sumerian blogger was just getting poetic. By John Hevelius 1690, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

But even though I think my analogy is pretty spot on and should probably become a thing, no one has ever said March is basically a toddler. Or if they did, no one ever repeated it, which is a shame. No, instead it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

That sort of works, too. Even though lions take a lot of naps and from a distance can resemble lazy old housecats on bad hair days, they also have scary teeth, loud roars, and are generally pretty willing to chew you up if given the chance. And lambs? Well, they’re just cute and stupid, the kind of animal you don’t have to give a lot of thought to except to say, “Awww.”

Awww. Photo courtesy of cathy0952, via Pixabay.

I suppose I can get behind the adage since people have evidently been using it for so long. According to this article in The Paris Review, the earliest known written reference to the saying is found in a book published in 1732 called Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British by Thomas Fuller. So then the saying was first used either in the early 18th century or in Ancient Mesopotamia or possibly somewhere in between, which narrows it down quite a bit.

Because I so painstakingly dedicate myself to thorough-ish research on this blog, I did, of course, take the time to search through the book, just to make sure the phrase was in there. Or at least that’s what I meant to do. Fuller includes thousands of sayings. Some of them we still use today. Many of them I probably heard my grandma say once or twice. Others strike this modern reader as just plain silly. I admit, I got a little lost.

Some of my favorites:

What exactly am I supposed to do with this mustard?  photo credit: Marthinshl Heinz Mustard Heinz Mustard Photography IPhoneography Product Photography via photopin (license)

“An apple may be better given than eaten.”

“He who is born a fool, is never cured.”

“If an ass goes traveling, he’ll not come home a horse.”

“If the old dog barks, he gives counsel.”

“Tailors and writers must mind the fashion.”

“After meat, mustard.”

I never did find a reference to March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, but it’s probably there. I also didn’t find any sayings suggesting that “March is basically a toddler,” so I think I may have coined it. And really, some years, March starts out a little more lamb-like and some years the nasty cold rages right into April, behaving just like a toddler that refused to take his afternoon nap. It’s a thing.

17 thoughts on “Basically a Toddler

  1. I’m with you–I’ve never been a fan of March. It teases us with warm weather, and then just when we think it’s spring, it dumps more snow and cold on us. So yes, I think you’ve summed it up perfectly by calling it a toddler. 😄

    1. Not sure about the hot dogs. Evidently it means that something has arrived too late to be useful, like if the mustard comes after the meat is gone. I quite like it. Maybe I’ll work it into a story sometime.

  2. I hated March in Iowa. Those nice days were just a cruel tease, and as another saying goes, nobody likes a tease! I really enjoyed this article. What exactly does “after meat, mustard” imply I wonder? Lol. Great post as always.

    1. Thanks. I looked it up and I think what refers to is something that is too late to be useful, like getting mustard after you’ve already eaten your meat, but that’s not in any historical context so who knows.

  3. Oh man, I can decide whether I love the “fool” quote or the “traveling ass” quote better. Probably the traveling ass one, just because I’m having so much fun typing “traveling ass.” March here in Portland usually means a nice little heat wave and sunny skies…the week BEFORE spring break (during which it will dump rain for 7 days straight). Gotta love the Northwest’s sense of weather humor. Still, I am more than ready for summer.

  4. Marcia Gaye

    Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British by Thomas Fuller. This makes me feel certain that in 300 years someone will be researching and quoting from Launching Sheep and Other Stories from the Intersection of History and Nonsense by Sarah Angleton.

  5. Pingback: Get Off My Lawn! – thepracticalhistorian

  6. Pingback: Basically a Toddler — thepracticalhistorian – Henry'blog

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