In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m not going to write a sappy tribute and get all teary-eyed (that’s not my style).
But I would like to share with you the valuable Life Lessons that Friar’s Mom has taught me over the years.
Life Lesson #1: Don’t believe everything you hear. And you can’t trust anyone.
I was five. We were at my grandfather’s cottage.
Mom told me that spruce gum tasted like honey. She smiled at me, as I went up to a tree all gooey with sap, and dabbed my finger into some and tasted it.
GagGHHH! It was the WORST thing ever! The vile bitter taste lingered on forever.
Mom looked at me and laughed. She said someone did the same thing to her when she was five. So now she passed on the tradition and did the same thing to ME.
40 years later, I STILL remember that afternoon.
My only regret is that I have no kids of my own to play this same trick on. (Maybe my nephews, though)
Life Lesson #2. Proper Nutrition is more important than enjoying your food.
Even since I was a kid, I was told: “Eat it, it’s good for you”.
“Yeah…but it tastes YUCKY.”
“But it’s GOOD for you…so EAT IT”.
End of story. (I’d never win this argument).
Life Lesson #3 Be persistent.
I’m almost 45 now…I eat out and/or cook my own food now. I no longer have to listen to Mom, I have total control over what I eat.
But I’m STILL being told ” Eat it, it’s good for you,”
Even after four decades, she’s still telling me this…hoping one day I’ll actually LISTEN to her.
You gotta admire that tenacity.
Life Lesson #4. If kids scream, scream back at them.
We were at a campground once on a family vacation. We were unfortunately next to another family with a screaming brat. Freaking kid wouldn’t shut up…just kept wandering around whining and having conniptions. And of course, his parents did nothing to stop it.
My Mom was in the trailer preparing supper. The demon-spawn was just outside her window, screaming as usual. She had had enough…
Mom pulled back the blinds, went right up to the window, and made a scary face: “BLAHHH!” (out of sight of his parents, of course).
Heh heh. Scared the little shit out of five years growth. He stopped crying, and went screaming back to his campsite,
Left us alone after that, too.
That was AWESOME. I didn’t’ know you could DO that.
Life Lesson #5 Allow kids self-implode, and let them learn from their misbehavior.
My cousin was visiting once. He was three. And for whatever reason, he was having a tantrum over the bean-game game. (You know…where you try to throw the bean-bags into the holes in a metal-reinforced box.
(Kick! Kick! Kick!) “Stupid bean bag game!” (Kick! Kick! Kick!)
“Kick it some more”, Mom told her nephew.
(Kick! Kick! Kick!). “Stupid! Stupid! Grrr! Dumb game!”
“Kick it again…HARDER!”, she encouraged.
(Kick! Kick!) “OWWW!” (stubs his toe!) “WAHHHHHHH AHHHHHH! AHHHHHH!
“There….do you SEE what happens when you lose your temper?”
A more eloquent lesson of teaching us to control our anger, I cannot think of.
Lesson #6. Children are not much different from apes on a zoo. Reward them with treats, and they’ll do anything you want.
Our family grew up skiing. Dad was always off instructing at the Ski School. Mom was stuck with the onerous task of keeping three kids on control in the lift-lines and on the ski-slopes. Picture trying to make a 5, 7 and 10-year-old get along and behave for the whole day. Ugh.
But she had a trick: she kept a bag of Smarties in her pocket. For every ski run, if we were good, we’d get us TWO smarties.
Two lousy Smarties.
But that was all it took. And we’d stand at the bottom of the hill, with our mouths open, like baby chicks waiting for Momma bird to feed us.
The best thing was, if you had two Smarties of the same color, is was a BONUS and you got a third Smartie.
(Heck…even the adult Lifties were jealous of us…and wanted candy too!)
Life Lesson #7. Don’t shelter your kids. Expose them to bad things and let them learn.
I was five. My Dad smoked a pipe back then. I was curious.
Mom said “Well, why don’t you try it?”. She actually encouraged it.
I remember Dad lighting up the pipe, giving it to me, and Mom and Dad smiling, as they watched me try to smoke.
(Oboy, oboy.) I was thrilled. They were actually going to let me SMOKE. (Oboy, oboy.)
(Cough! Cough! Sputter! Gag!)
WORST thing I ever tasted in my life.
I don’t think I’ve touched a pipe since.
And I’ve never taken up smoking, either!
(Tricky parents!). They KNEW what they were doing, all along!
Life Lesson #8. Life can be Unfair. Death happens, and we have to accept it.
I was about twelve. I had found a baby bird that had fallen down a sewer, and I rescued it. I brought it home, hoping I could feed it worms or something, and to nurse it back to health.
Looking back, I think my Mom knew all along the bird was toast, and there was nothing we could do about it. But she probably realized I wouldn’t have listened to any of this. So she let me bring the bird in the house in a box, to try to do whatever I could, and let me figure things out myself.
The poor little bird didn’t last the night. I was devastated.
That’s when Mom came around, to pick up the broken pieces of her son. It was my first honest, “adult” discussion about Life and Death. What it means, how it’s not always pretty, that’s just the way it is.
Hard lesson to learn, but I’ll never forget it.
Life Lesson #9. You don’t have to spank kids to get your point across
I was in the kitchen once, I think I was ten or twelve. Bitching about something, I don’t remember. And as usual, I wouldn’t shut up.
I was bending down to get some cereal in the cupboard, still complaining. Suddenly, it was like a soft heavy weight was gently pushing on neck. I almost lost my balance.
Turns out Mom was cooking pizza.
And she had chucked the dough right at my head.
Nice arm, Mom.
Didn’t hurt or anything. But you gotta admit, it DID make me shut up.
Life Lesson #10. Don’t be an old fuddy-duddy.
“Growing old, you can’t help….but growing up…that’s optional”.
– Friar’ Mom
(And this isn’t a made-up quote…this one is real!)