"Always Wear Clean Underwear!": And Other Ways Parents Say "I Love You"

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Clean your plate.
Stand up straight.
Call if you're going to be late.

Part of being a kid is having grown-ups make you do things you hate—like eating your vegetables, taking out the garbage, and walking the dog. Then, to make matters worse, they say you can't do things that are no big deal-like talking with your mouth full or wearing dirty underwear. And worst of all? You ...

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Overview

Clean your plate.
Stand up straight.
Call if you're going to be late.

Part of being a kid is having grown-ups make you do things you hate—like eating your vegetables, taking out the garbage, and walking the dog. Then, to make matters worse, they say you can't do things that are no big deal-like talking with your mouth full or wearing dirty underwear. And worst of all? You have to listen to them say it not once, not twice, but a zillion times.

When Marc Gellman put together a list of your parents' favorite do's and don'ts, he made a big discovery: Each thing on The List has a hidden meaning that helps you get through life. And love is the reason for everything on The List. So if you already wear clean underwear, here are thirty-one more tips to help you understand some of the crazy ways that parents try to say, "I love you."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688171124
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST HARPER
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi Gellman holds an earned doctorate in philosophy from Northwestern University. Rabbi Gellman is married to Betty Schulson and has two children, Mara and Max. He is the senior rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, New York. He will be the next president of the New York Board of Rabbis.

Debbie Tilley has illustrated numerous children's books, including E is for Elisa, Summer with Elisa, and No Ordinary Olive. When she's not working on a book, she employs her artistic talent coloring with her young daughter, who lives with her in Escondido, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Always Wear Clean Underwear


Why do your parents care about your underwear? Nobody sees your underwear, and yet parents always tell kids to wear clean underwear. What gives?

If you ever ask your parents this question, they will give you answer #I: "Dirty underwear is full of germs, and we don't want those germs jumping off your underwear and onto you."

If you tell your folks that you can wear underwear for a month before it gets really dirty, they will give you answer #2. This answer is so goofy that lots of kids just fall down laughing when they first hear it, but it's one of the most famous answers on The List:

"You should always wear clean underwear because if you ever get into an accident on the way to school or on the way home from school and an ambulance has to take you to the hospital and the doctors in the emergency room have to take your pants off, if they see that you're wearing dirty underwear then they'll think that we're bad parents because we don't wash your underwear."

I don't know how these answers got started. Like most things on The List, they seem to have been around forever. I never heard of people getting sick from wearing dirty underwear. Maybe you could get sick from wearing somebody else's dirty underwear, but I just don't think you could get that sick from wearing your own. And I never ever heard of doctors in any emergency room saying, "Well, we'd like to help this kid, but we just can't—he's wearing dirty underwear."

So, there must be some big deep reason hiding behind whyyour folks care so much about clean underwear. I think I figured it out the big reason for wearing clean underwearis to teach you this:

What people don't see about you should be just as good as what people do see about you.

We all try to look good outside. The hard part is to look good inside.

If you pretend to be somebody's friend but say bad things about him or her to other people, then it's a lot like wearing dirty underwear. If you look at your own test when the teacher is looking at you but as soon as the teacher leaves the room look at your neighbor's test, then you're wearing dirty underwear. If you act nice to your brothers or sisters when your parents are around but hit them and make them miserable when your parents are gone, then you're wearing dirty underwear.

The hardest thing in life is to be the same way deep down as you are on top. If you're always pretending to be something you aren't, if you never say what you mean, if you never do what you say, then you'll be unhappy, and people will stay away from you because they don't want to have a friend who is clean only on the outside.

Of course, nobody's perfect. One of the differences between good people and bad people is that good people don't try to hide their bad parts. They admit their bad parts and try to make their bad parts smaller. They take their bad parts to the laundry so that when they go out into the world, their insides and their outsides will both be clean.

And you know what? Wearing clean underwear isn't so bad after all. Once you get used to the feeling of being the same on the inside as you are on the outside, you won't want to lie about anything anymore. Once you get used to really being nice to people and not just acting nice to people, you'll get used to the feeling of having real friends. And once you get used to the feeling of soft clean underwear next to your skin, you won't want to go scrounging around under the bed looking for the cootie-coated underwear you wore last Tuesday!

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    To learn about life for children.

    This book great for kids at the age of 9-14 year old because it teaches kids that life isn't easy you have to work for what you want because if u want something you must do as ur told.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2008

    Classic that you will read again and again!

    This is a wonderful book that takes common things we were all told as children and shows them in a different light. The book is comprised of a 'list' of things parents always tell their children, such as 'Eat your vegetables,' Take out the garbage,' and 'Always wear clean underwear.' Each of these mandates is retold with a bigger message. This is a memorable book that teaches character lessons. It is perfect as a bedtime read aloud.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    It's no misunderstanding that this book is trying to tell kids that their parents do everything they do because of love. Reading this book makes one feel happy(don't be mislead by the title...the book is very, very sweet). I rented it from the library, and though I've only read it once, last year, its the most powerfully written book I've ever read. You won't be disappointed after reading this. And you'll remember it your whole life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2004

    Better than five stars!

    I picked this little book up while browsing the other day and I could not like it more!! Great life lessons, serious yet genuinely funny, told in such a way as to make them a delight to any reader!! How refreshing to find a moral book without a heavy-handed slant towards any one religion. KUDOS!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2003

    A funny, witty, and direct answer on why parents say what they say!.

    I read this book before giving it to our 13 year old twins. It's an easy read for young teens and tells kids why parents say things like 'wear clean underwear; eat your vegetables; and call me if you're going to be late.' It's great for older teens,too, because Rabbi Gellman tells the life lessons we all learn from 'the list.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2000

    Priceless Words of Wisdom

    Always Wear Clean Underwear: And Other Ways Parents Say 'I Love You' is an incredibly clever and humorous approach to explaining the famous cliche's parents have handed down through the years. Gellman has written an uplifting and edifying book for kids and parents to enjoy.

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