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Fri04182014

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Top 10 favorite expressions of African-American parents

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In just the first four minutes of last week's season premiere of "Scandal," giddy gladiators finally got a glimpse of what life must have been like in the Pope residence. And, for anyone who grew up under the thumb of an exacting parent, that scene looked all too familiar.

As it turns out, someone other than the president of the United States has the power to bring Olivia Pope to her knees – her dad. Arriving just in the nick of time to save Olivia from a swarm of bloodthirsty reporters, Papa Pope (played with filial fervor by Joe Morton) whisks the newly scandalous fixer off to get fixed.

"Did I not raise you better?" Rowan Pope asks incredulously. "How many times have I told you, 'You have to be what?'"

An uncharacteristically speechless Olivia tries to whisper, "Twice as good – " before Rowan, so mad he's spraying it while saying it, finishes her sentence.

"Twice as good as them to get half of what they have!"

The rest of that scene played out like a "Things Black Parents Say" sketch on YouTube, with Rowan literally spitting out classic one-liners in that booming voice any child who's landed in boiling hot water would instantly recognize.

And since Liv defied her dear ol' dad by getting off that plane, there will definitely be plenty more Pope versus Pope showdowns to come. Here's a list of the top 10 things we expect Rowan – the prototypical demanding dad – to say at least once per episode (plus one that isn't actually said). Olivia, you've been warned.

African-American parents' favorite expressions: Top 10

1. "If you fail to plan, plan to fail."
This line is so old I'm sure it's what God said to his only begotten son, Jesus, when he was acting up.

2. "This hurts me more than it hurts you."
It's pretty clear where Olivia gets her take-charge attitude. Mr. Pope certainly taught her to never play the fool.

3. "Because I said so."
As the big boss of the scary spy-assassin program, B613, Papa Pope is all-too-familiar with violence. I doubt he'll ask Olivia to "go get a switch," but he'll definitely put a hurting on her somehow.

4. "Have you lost your mind?"
Need I say more? Olivia is the queen of the last word, and I'm sure she got it honestly.

5. "You better look at me when I'm talking to you."
"Don't worry, I'll find it for you," is usually the follow-up to this rhetorical. As the ultimate fixer, Papa Pope might spend the rest of Season 3 trying to get Olivia's mind right.

6. "Fix your face!"
I was half-expecting Mr. Pope to shout this line when Olivia reverted back to her 7-year-old self during that stern talking to in the season premiere. But the line's coming.

7. "I'm going to count to three. One, three."
If a picture says a thousand words on Facebook, then the look on your face says a billion to a black parent.

8. "You've got one more time to ... "
Olivia's already defied her dad once, and there's no doubt she'll do it again.

9. "So you think you're grown now, huh?"
We learned last week that Rowan is the ultimate Washington insider. Olivia is small potatoes compared to Papa Pope. Extra points if Rowan tells her to "stay out of grown folks business" at any point in the season.

10. " ... "
In the end most parents don't have to actually say anything because they can all stop the presses with just one look.

(Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of "Bitch Is the New Black," a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.)

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