Life Lessons I Learned from my Mom.

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!)

Explore posts in the same categories: Friar's Grab Bag

36 Comments on “Life Lessons I Learned from my Mom.”

  1. Karen JL Says:

    10 more reasons to love Friar’s Mom.

    I have opted *not* to grow up. I think I’ve proven that. 😉

    My dad used to let us take a sip of his beer on special occasions (he didn’t drink much). It didn’t taste all that great, but I still loved to do it.

    When I got to be a young teenager and everyone just wanted to drink at dances and such, I really didn’t see the big deal. I’d been *allowed* to drink all along. So I didn’t do that in my early teens.

    (Mind you, I did make up for it in my late teens…and twenties…and thirties. Crap. My dad made me an alcoholic…)

  2. Friar Says:


    I think my folks did the same thing. They let us sip beer and liquor to know what it tasted like. I never did like it…like you, I wasn’t interested in alcohol till I was almost 19.

    And then I made up for it! 🙂

  3. Friar's Mom Says:


    My dad let us sip his Black Horse porter, a dark brown brew with creamy froth. I too was not interested in drinking. However, I got really drunk celebrating my older brother’s engagement. I was so sick and had such a terrible hangover headache, I never drank again.

    @Wee Friar,

    I can attest to your drinking in Freshman year at university. You came home at Thanksgiving, very proud of your “Boat Rowing” medal. Naïve Me!! You had to explain that you were the anchor man for the team, which meant you had to chugalug two consecutive beers. You were well trained for that role. You unwittingly spent your youth training for the position, by guzzling copious glasses of milk.

    Re the honey on the tree, I should have known better. I apologize for that trauma in your young life. My dad played that trick on me. Yet, I’m certain if I had told you not to do taste it, you would have. Remember when I bought the small red and yellow hot chili pepper plant and told you not to touch it or taste it. You went ahead and tasted it. Yuk!

  4. mehculpa Says:

    ::waves @ Friar’s Mom::

    You have a good mom, Friar. 🙂

    I did #4 to a tailgater behind me on the freeway. She thought I had road rage and she looked horrified and went around very quickly. Mu daughter was with me so I have no doubt she learned that lesson.

    Actually, I’ve done a few things on that list. Except chucking the pizza dough. That was PRICELESS! 😀


  5. Donald Mills Says:

    Great post, young Friar.

    And cheers Friar’s Mom! A job well done!

  6. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom
    Yeah…I remember bringing that medal home. Dad’s first impression was to tell you “…our son’s a drunk!”

    Though I obviously managed to control my drinking, seeing how I graduated, and then some.

    PS. All is forgiven for the spruce gum/honey trick. But you must admit, it makes for a good story.

    Yeah, my Mom’s all right. I think I’ll keep her.

    I highly recommend #4. (Especially in WallMart, with screaming toddlers in pushcarts). Scream right back at them…they’re so surprised, they shut up for a few seconds.

    Then you retreat quickly, get out of sight, before they start again in a few seconds. It’s hilarious!

    @Donald Mills
    Thanks. That means a lot, coming from a respected gentlman like yourself.

    I agree, I would say my Mom must have done a pretty good job.

    I’m far from perfect. But then again, I havent’ been to jail, I have a steady job, I pay my taxes, and I reguarly call home.

    Hopefully that counts for something.

  7. Kelly Says:


    I already mentioned at my blog that I thought your mom did a greate job. She’s a wonderful lady. BUT I wanted a patented Friar mushy-post! I’m totally disappointed!

    Now I’ll have to search the blogosphere for some other mushy Mothers’ Day post so I can get teary before The Kid wakes up. I’m sure no one else has written a mushy one. 🙂

    Oh, and #5—yep. I do that.



    P.S. Karen totally stole my real comment. From My dad used to all the way to alcoholic. No point now, so this is the last-minute comment I came up with in its place. (Karen, is your dad a Flynn by any chance?)

  8. Friar's Mom Says:


    What’s with the Blogosphere? I assume you knew your mom. So why not search your Happy Compartment for wonderful memories?

    Baking Christmas cookies with my mom, and that smell in the kitchen, was very special. I remember her patience with me when she taught me to knit and crochet when I was a preschooler. I remember the love notes she left in my lunch bag. I remember taking her out for cherry pie with my first part time pay cheque. I remember her radiance on my wedding day. I remember the joy she experience when she held her first grandchild, Wee Friar.

    I especially have wonderful memories of the summers spent in an old farmhouse, no running water, no electricity. I can still smell the bread she baked in an old fashioned cast iron wood stove. We slathered the toast (made on that cast iron stove) with her homemade wild strawberry jam. She was a patient, loving, caring mom, with a sense of humour, who showered her children with love, hugs, and kisses.

    Now, go girl. Put some quiet music on, lie down, close you eyes, and travel back into your own past, and remember the happy times with your own mom, not someone else’s.

  9. Kyddryn Says:

    Mum often says “I may grow old but I’ll never grow up!”

    I’m with her.

    Your mum is brilliant.

    I’m spending he day with mine, trolling the Ren Fest for memories to stow away and maybe some sort of meat on a stick upon which we may dine. Or fried pickles. She loves fried pickles. Mum’s can be odd, sometimes, but that’s what makes us a matched pair!

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  10. Friar Says:

    You wanted a mushy Friar post? (heh heh). You should KNOW me better than that.

    Yes, I have been known to write them. Mabye two a year. (So I think I’ve used up my quota already).

    @Friar’s Mom
    Good sound advice. (I dont’ have to comment much here, we just discussed this over coffee just 30 minutes ago).

    Kelly, listen to Friar’s Mom. She knows what she’s talking about. 😉

    If your Mom likes to go out and eat some sort of meat on a stick, she’s okay in my books! 🙂

    Hope you have a great Mother’s Day with her.

    PS. Fried Pickles (???) That’s certainly different! Can’t say I’ve ever come across that in Ontario.

    Maybe it just hasnt’ caught on yet.

  11. Karen JL Says:

    @ Kelly – So all the smart fathers are trying to turn their kids into alkies I see. (And no, he’s a Lloyd). Too funny. 🙂

    Well, I will take this Mother’s Day to officially celebrate the fact that I’m NOT one. Ahh…

    (But kudos to all the ones out there doing a great job. I don’t know how you do it ladies.)

  12. Kelly Says:

    Friar’s Mom,

    While I love and treasure my mother, she was… a little hands-off. Not too many warm fuzzy memories there. (Some do, some don’t. C’est la vie.)

    Besides, I was only kidding with Friar, because he would have been good at a mushy post. He knows that.

    I went out and made warm fuzzy memories for my kid today instead. Like I’m gonna hang around the blogosphere on the one day of the year that’s devoted to me and my reason for being. Nuh-uh.


    Friar’s Mom has not met my mom. She’ll just have to trust me on this.

    You’re awesome at the get-people-reaching-for-the-hankies posts and you know a gazillion people probably wrote them today. Yours would have been better. Just sayin’.


    With difficulty.

    Keeps you humble, raising a human being. Which, heaven knows, I need. 🙂

    Happy not Mothers’ Day to you!

    Until later,


  13. Karen JL Says:

    Kelly – I’ve christened it ‘Happy I’m Not A Mother’s Day’. 🙂

  14. Patricia Says:

    Happy Mother’s Day to Friar’s Mother and I liked this post and tribute.
    My Mother was very appalled at herself for this story: My brother bit her in the back of the leg one day…and she turned right around and bit him on the upper arm. He never bit anyone again, and neither did anyone in my house bite anyone – the word was out. My Mum was so embarrassed at herself.

    My youngest child was sent home from school numerous times for biting other children. We tried everything except biting back…and no other child bit her back either…I don’t think her teeth were very powerful, as she has no bone behind her front teeth, but she did make many cry. I finally took her out of school and we moved her next surgery date up and she was out of school for 7 months…gave her some maturity and she stopped biting.

    My mother had an incredible knack for calming any fussy baby that she met with – truly skilled at this.
    I honor your Mother’s Wisdom. Thank you for sharing

  15. Friar Says:

    Well, I needed a bit of levity on Saturday (we had enough serious family problems at home that weekend). So it was a silly post.

    Maybe next Mother’s day. Who knows when I’ll write a tear-jerker next? It could be next week, or 6 months from now.

    I’m SOOOO happy too, that I’m not a parent. (Here’s to US!) (*clinking glasses*)

    I had a recent visit with some kids. Suffice to say, there was considerable screaming and crying..

    After they had left I was pondering with the idea of standing he microwave with the door open…to sterilize myself….so there would be NO possibility of ever having my own rug-rats.

    That was a pretty cool story about your Mom. Like you said, your brother never bit anyone again! 🙂

  16. Brett Legree Says:

    So, by comparing #1 with #2, that must mean spruce gum is good for you, right?

    (Because it doesn’t taste good!)

  17. Friar's Mom Says:

    @ Wee Friar,

    I just found the following info on spruce gum.

    “American colonists learned from the Indians of New England how to chew the gum-like resin that formed on spruce trees when the bark was cut. Lumps of spruce gum were sold in the eastern United States during the early 1800s, making it the first commercial ‘chewing gum’ in America. Around 1850, sweetened paraffin wax became popular and eventually surpassed spruce gum in popularity.”

    So if you were a wee colonist, I would have put the delicacy in your Christmas stocking, and you would have loved it.

    @ All,

    Do any of you remember chewing red paraffin lips,or am I dating myself?

  18. Kyddryn Says:

    @Friar’s Mum: I remember wax lips. I never much cared for them, but I remember them. They are still sold ’round these parts in novelty shops, along with those funny wax tubes full of artificially coloured, artificially flavoured sugar water.

    Good grief there are some oddities in the world, aren’t there?

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  19. XUP Says:

    I hope I’m a mom a little like yours. Someone referred to me the other day as the “non-nurturing” type and I guess if that means I don’t coddle, then they’re right. I’ll bet when you were really sick as a kid, your mom did what she had to do to make you feel better for one day and then you pretty much had to snap out of it or rot in your own fever-soaked sheets.

  20. Friar Says:

    @Brett that logic, Spruce gum should be chock full of nutrients! (Shudder).

    @Friar’s Mom

    The colonists probably so busy trying not to die of scurvy or diptheria or God Knows what…that spruce gum seemed like a TREAT, in comparison.

    …and THAT’S why I’m glad I didnt’ live in thr 1830’s.

  21. Friar Says:

    Unlike Friar’s Mom, I dont’ think I’ve even seen wax lips (of I’ve never bought a pair). But I know OF them.

    I do remember the wax sugared water bottles. But it was pretty shitty candy….short-lived pleasure, then you were stuck with stupid wax.

    Our family is pretty type-A…we are all pretty active, and we tended want to get out of bed anyway. (I remember Dad or Grandma scolding me and telling me I should rest some more).

    But Mom is a good nurse. She spends the winters in BC, but once she flew from to Ontario for a week, to nurse me after some major knee surgery.

    Made sure I ate right, too (“Eat it…it’s GOOD for you!”)

  22. Friar's Mom Says:


    I know that turpentine is made from the distillation of pine tree resin. Do you suppose it’s related to spruce gum?

    So maybe turpentine is also good for you.

  23. Brett Legree Says:


    You never know, it just might be good for you. Kind of like cod liver oil.

    @Friar’s Mom,

    Hmm. It might be one of those “everything in moderation” things, a little dab will do ya etc.

    Raw sugar is not too bad for you, in moderation, but if you make it into 151 proof rum, well… 🙂

    Put another way, I tend to trust natural things or natural processes (e.g. fermentation, and therefore beer) more than I do modified stuff (e.g. distillation, and therefore hard liquor – though I do like scotch)

  24. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom

    I bet you that’s what the alcoholics who live in isolated communities up North believe ! 😉

  25. Friar Says:


    Yeah…I’d much rather eat sugar, which occurs naturally, than eat aspartame that was synthesized in a chemical plant.

  26. Patricia Says:

    @Friar’s Mom
    I remember the red wax lips but I could not eat them or chew them and still don’t like the waxy texture of things, but I certainly had friends who loved them

    I use a great deal of Melaleuca Oil in my life (it is a gum/turpentine substance) and usually called Tea Tree Oil…the tea has saved a lot of sailors from scurvy and loosing their teeth over history. I chew tooth brushing gum made with this oil and use it in my cleaning products. Lots of allergies disappeared. The kind of TTO that I use is edible, most of it is not.

    We did chew some kind of fir tree bark as a kid in the NW…

  27. Karen Swim Says:

    Friar, I hope you and your Mom had a lovely Mother’s Day. This was far better than a sappy post. I laughed and smiled the whole way through especially at the pizza dough! Now we know how to keep you quiet, we’ll just chuck dough at your head. lol! Your Mom is awesome and a very wise woman. Want some gum? It tastes like honey, really.

  28. Friar Says:


    Yeah…but how does Melaleucia oil TASTE? (Awful, I bet) 😉

    Glad you liked it. Kelly wanted something sappy..but, well…that’s just NOT me!

    I have a whole bunch of other life lessons from my Mom. I can probably add a 2nd post on the subject.

  29. Friar's Mom Says:

    @Wee Friar,

    You forgot another toss, other than pizza dough.

    Remember that hot humid summer day when our neighbour put up a plastic sided pool for his son. It was probably two or three feet high. Your kid brother and sister were invited to splash around, but since you were three years older you weren’t invited. You came into the kitchen furious about this. I tried to explain it was a kiddies’ pool and you were older. You kept ranting that it wasn’t fair. There was no way I could wedge a word in edgewise. I was at the sink and in an instant I flung the contents of a glass of water in your face. You stood there shocked for an instant, and then calmly said “Thanks, I needed that”.

    No other words were exchanged. You went outside, and I moped up the floor.

    In this present day and age, I would probably have been charged with child abuse.

  30. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom

    Oh, I remember THAT one too. I probably could have added another 10 Life Lessons here.

    I think almost any parent during the 70’s would be charged with child abuse, by today’s standards.

    Maybe Don Mills can write a post about it!

  31. feefifoto Says:

    My brother-in-law’s mother let him try a cigarette on the condition that he finish it all. Probably the only smart thing she’s ever done in her life. Still, I prefer just to lecture my kids endlessly about the dangers of smoking.

  32. Friar Says:

    When I was in my 20’s, my buddy got a pack of cigarettes by mistake in his bag of groceries.

    We went to the park at night to smoke them. (Just to deliberately be stupid like a bunch of 13 year olds).

    I got so sick and miserable (and my asthma acted up) I couldn’t even finish one. It just confirmed the lesson I learned from the pipe at age five.

    I’d highly recommend doing what my Mom did. It would definitely turn kids off that bad habit for life.

  33. Friar's Mom Says:

    @ Wee Friar,

    I didn’t know you got cigarette sick. I did the same thing in Freshman Year. It must be genetic.

    My friends smoked in the cafeteria and I wanted so desparaely to be part of the group. But first I had to learn how to smoke. One Sunday evening while my parents were out, I bought a pack of cigarettes and my sister watched me as I lit up one after another in front of a mirror. I even tried making smoke rings. After inhaling and exhaling the smoke from five cigarettes I experienced excrutiating pain in my chest and abdomen area, and went to bed thinking I would be dead by morning. I told my sister she could have all my jewelry after I died. I asked her to swear on my deathbed that she would never tell my mom and dad how I died.

    I have never touched another cigarette in all my life.

  34. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom

    You a few cigarettes? Once?

    Wow. You must have been the terror of that Catholic High School for Wayward Girls. 😀

    Didn’t you also once tell me that you got drunk? (In your late teens or 20’s?)

    For the first and only time in your life, if I recall.

    My Mother, folks: she has SO MANY vices.

  35. steph Says:

    This was awesome!! I especially laughed out loud at the “There, now you SEE what happens when you lose your temper?” AHAHAHA!!

    I wish MY parents had used that tactic. Instead, one of my first birthday gifts was Bozo the Clown, which you punched as hard as you could. Remember those? I know how fond you are of clowns…

    He had a weight at the bottom of him and kept bouncing back. It made me furious. They ditched that and nothing, not even cold water in the face, worked as I got older. I had an extremely short fuse and we fought passionately till I left home at 19.

    Now I’m either mellowing with age or have just learned to pick which battles are worth the energy.

  36. Friar Says:


    HAHAHAH! I’m laughing out loud and kind gentle Steph, the animal-lover vegetarian…getting FURIOUS at a clown punching toy. 😀

    I never had one of those, but I’ve played with them before. They were okay for a while, but then the novelty kinda wore off.

    But I still have a temper, though. Friar’s Mom can attest to the tantrums I’ve thrown as a kid.

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