Every kid learns sooner or later that when Mom says “we’ll see,” she really means no. Mom just doesn’t want an argument at the time, so she postpones the decision until later, sometimes indefinitely.
“Mom, can I have an ice cream after dinner?” asks a hopeful child in a busy restaurant.
“We’ll see…” says Mom, glancing around the crowded room.
“Mom, if I’m really good, can I have an extra toy?”
Mom doesn’t want the kid to start freaking out because she said no, but also has no real intention of letting the kid (or kids) have their extra toy. “We’ll see…” also has the benefit of an implied request: “We’ll see how well you behave and then make a decision. If you don’t behave, my decision will be no, but I’m not promising a yes if you do behave.”
As a teacher, I sometimes find myself saying the exact same things, for the exact same reason. I don’t want to say no outright, because that would invite an argument or whining. But, I really have no intention of giving them get what they want, especially if they haven’t earned it. I never thought I’d see the day…
“Miss Chris, can we have recess last period?”
Right after I said it I had to pause and think; ‘did I really just say that?!’ Turns out it’s a good phrase for teachers too. If my students are absolute angels for the rest of the day, I just might be convinced to give them an extra recess. However, if there is any funny business I have not promised them anything outright, and am well within my rights to say no.
The other day my students and I were discussing a character in a short story and the character’s mother told him “we’ll see…” I ended up talking about how my mom said that same thing to me and my brothers all the time. Then, I asked the kids if their parents ever did that. One or two students said that their folks might have said it once or twice, but most of them looked confused. As I tried to explain further the kids still looked a little lost.
Then, another student piped up and said, “My mom usually says ‘Inshallah’ [God willing] when she doesn’t want to say no to me.”
Immediately all the other students in the room started nodding vigorously. “Oh yeah, Miss! My mom says ‘Inshallah’ all the time! Sometimes I have to ask her if it’s a real ‘Inshallah’ or not,” explained one child.
“I always have to tell my mom ‘Say yes or no, not ‘Inshallah” but she still says it all the time,” another kid claimed.
I almost couldn’t help myself; I wanted to laugh out loud at the humor of the situation. I thought that “We’ll see…” was the universal mom phrase, and turns out I wasn’t far off the mark. It just may need a little translation, is all.