The internet tells me that “Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick” is an Australian saying. How it got into use by the Furlong family, I have no idea. The Furlongs only ever had a vague connection with Australia.
But we used it nevertheless. Any complaint by the kids and here it would come. “Well it’s better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick”
Kids seem to understand that quickly don’t you think?
Other sayings which mean the same thing are –
“It’s better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.”
“It’s better than a kick up the arse with a frozen foot.”
” It’s better than a slap on the belly with a wet lettuce.”
“Its better than sleeping with a dead policeman.”
Wet fishes, frozen feet, lettuces and dead policemen were not part of our children’s life experiences, but poking was something warned about regularly. Poking is dangerous. Poking happens when you run around holding a sharp thing, or you run INTO your brother or sister holding a sharp thing, or you simply jab yourself with a sharp thing.
The idea that a burnt stick might leave a crumble of ash stuck in your eye after the event is clear too. All our kids got something in the eye at one time or another. So they knew how it felt.
Everyone nowadays seems to be complaining about something or other. Covid has brought out whiners and moaners. They are everywhere. If you said to them “it’s better than getting Covid”, they would still complain.
If you said “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick”, they might understand. Even a kid can understand that!
Just about everything is better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick – everything.