What is it about being a parent?
All those little sayings that they rack up over the years, the advice, the warnings, the little things that just do not make sense. Where do they come from?
My Daddy used to look at us and say, “Eat them vegetables, there are kids in China that don’t have rice to eat!” Which did not make a lick of sense to me’
First, China is a major rice producer, they taught me that in school. Their diet consists mainly of rice (eaten three times per day).
Secondly, my Dad was from Watonga, Oklahoma and had never to my knowledge even been to China.
Now Mom, she was more pragmatic and down to earth, but of course, she was from Crescent, Oklahoma which is a great deal closer to the state capitol. She would say, “Now listen buster, if you think this is over, you have another think coming.” Which I could never for the life of me understand, what is another “think coming?”
“Donnie, don’t you let that dog lick your little sister in the face!” I would say to her, “Why?” and she would quickly inform me, “Because she will get rabies that is why!” When I was a teenager and pretty much stoopid … I would inquire as to her meaning and challenge her authority by saying, “What does that mean? It doesn’t make sense, why do I have to do that?” and the only answer I ever got, was “Because I am your mother … That’s why!”
Pragmatic … Logical (in her way of thinking) .. And to the point. (End of story)
When I was ten, I tied one of my Mom’s best towels around my neck, climbed up on top of my Father’s house and dove off (to fly like Superman) and I almost killed myself, to the utter glee of the other kids in the neighborhood.
Later on … I pedaled my bike intensely, my head low, racing down the street on my 10 spd bike at a high rate of speed, in my futile effort to set another Mocine Ave high-speed-landlocked-record for a bicycle.
Only to run smack dab into the back of a parked telephone company truck, clearly stopped and protected by bright orange plastic safety cones.
Later on it was “No shenanigans with loose women in the house when we are away” which really kind of scared me too death. For a little bit there, I thought he was talking about sex. There isn’t a guy in the world that never heard this coming thru the bathroom door … “Don’t do that … If you do it will make you go blind.”
Uh huh, sure Dad.
And my all time personal favorite, the time I asked him about personal protection. “They come in three sizes son, small, medium and liar” … Y’all can figure it out. In high school, my golden years as he put it. The time I came home with a report card that read, three C’s and two D’s he said to me, “What do you have?” and I said … “I dunno, a Full House?”
That summer, at the lake when an admiring adult looked at my Father’s dog with admiration and great envy and then inquired of me if he could swim? I answered in the affirmative sense …“Yes sir, and picked up the poor dog and threw him off the boat dock” only to discover that he could NOT swim. I spent that weekend or rather a large portion of it, teaching my Father’s dog HOW to swim. Thru all of this, each and every one, the only comment I can truthfully remember from my Father was …. “Son, has your head been on your body all day long?”
The old man came home early one night, caught me wrestling on the couch with Susie Mathews in the family room, without so much as a blink of an eye, he looked at us both and then smiled and said … “Who’s winning?” then turned and walked away. Now if that had been Mom, well it would have been totally different …. “Oh my Gawd! Loren, come here and look what YOUR son is doing with this girl!”
Not all the advice from parents or adults was exceptional or good as I remember it. How about ducking under the tables in school in the fifties, when this was supposed to save us from nuclear attack from the Soviet Union? I could never understand that one at all. How was ducking under a cheap desk in fifth grade going to save me from a thermonuclear holocaust?
Why they made us dance with the girls on rainy days or gave us a part in the school play.
How about that wonderfully embarrassing time, when your kid is up there on stage, in the school play, all dressed up in some costume shaped like an acorn or a piece of fruit. The time when your mind will wander. As a parent, you will envision him standing there with the Oscar in his hand. Saying something profound such as “I would like to thank my director, my producer, the American movie going public, all those in the cast for supporting me” … And then just as suddenly, you snap back to reality.
“Yes, sir … And do you want fries with that?”
Some thirty-five years ago, when I first introduced my very much Chinese bride to my parents, my Father looked at Cup Cake and said to her, “Do you eat rice?” Which I absolutely could NOT believe. So when you take into account the gene-pool our two kids came from, it is absolutely a marvel of God, that they turned out as well as they did.
Looking back on it all, it has been one grand adventure. My hat is off to my parents, bless their hearts, who did the best they could, working with what The Good Lord gave them. Which believe me, wasn’t always an easy row to hoe or work with at any given time.
I am thankful that our kids turned out well. They both made it thru school and did not do drugs, settled down and have wonderful families, and they believed about 50% of what I told them during their wonder years (so they tell me) … All in all, I say we did alright.
They usually have all the answers, for just about anything you can imagine.
We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.
Henry Ward Beecher