Momisms and Popisms: Stuff Other People’s Parents Told Them

October 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

   A few weeks ago I posted a sampling of quotes I recall from growing up with a dad who was full of good information, and I asked for feedback from others who remember tidbits from their own childhoods.  I am enough of an inveterate divulger to remain astonished that not everyone leaps to share their personal experiences with the world at large.  But the smattering of responses I got, while small in number, were gems with no need of polishing.  Some are telling anecdotes that encapsulate a general philosophy and others, small snippets that might be stitched onto cloth and hung on the wall.

The invitation to contribute to this exchange still stands.  To grease the hinges on the vault door to your own memory archives, consider these offerings from fellow readers:

From my cousin … “Oooh, this advice [see 9/6/10 posting] sounds so familiar… possibly because my father was your father’s brother.  But also I love the way fathers give quintessentially practical advice, so precious for its sensible, unemotional quality.  It is their way of loving…and it truly helps you through life, for it stays with you.”

From a friend who knew me when … “For our 40th anniversary, our oldest son put together a DVD for us with pictures of my husband, Bobby, and me when we met, and of our early parenting years, along with recordings from old reel-to-reel tapes.  I cried happy tears as I heard my babies’ voices, plus those of my mom and dad, and even my beloved sheepdog, Pookie; voices gone from us for many years. 

“Two outstanding quotes from my mother were, ‘Did you learn to cook yet?’ and ‘You take care of Bobby and he’ll take care of you.’”

 From a fellow parishioner … “I recently found a card with this quote, in with a bunch of photos and such from my mother’s belongings.  I wish I had adopted this advice long ago but it has always been a weakness (part of the sin thing).  ‘The Art of Governing the Tongue, a quote from Benjamin Franklin:  The mouth of a wise man is in his heart.  The heart of a fool is in his mouth.’

“There are a lot of good things we could have learned from our parents, if we had only had our ears open and our mouths shut.”

And another jewel, from Ecclesiastes 7:5, on using discernment in who you listen to … “It is better to be criticized by a wise man than to be praised by a fool.” 

From a family friend whose father was in the Navy with my father … “Dad would say to me, ‘Well, I think we’ve learned something here, and nobody was killed!’, anytime a big lesson was learned or whenever some kind of momentous calamity occurred – and I caused more than my share. 

“For example, when I was around ten, I had a chemistry set and somewhere, I don’t remember where, I came up with the recipe for black powder (gun powder).  I made a half cup of the recipe (powdered charcoal briquet, saltpeter from the neighborhood pharmacy, and sulfur from somewhere, if I remember correctly).  Boy was I surprised when I lit it and it worked!  Set the basement workbench on fire.

 “Mom, from the kitchen:  ‘What was that noise?’

“Me:  ‘Nothing.’

“Mom:  ‘What’s that smell?’

“Me, quickly trying to put out the small fire with buckets of water from the washtubs:  ‘Uh, nothing.’

“Mom, coming down the stairs:  ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve set the house on fire!’

“Dad, fresh back from work:  ‘Well, I think we’ve learned something here, and nobody was killed!’

“He wasn’t quite as charitable when a new company car that he brought home on a Friday was almost totaled while I was out with it on a date on Saturday.  And let’s not talk about the time I was doing some electrical engineering experiments in the basement and blew up the fuse box.  Got that one fixed and cleaned up before Dad got home.  Oh my, what good times!”

Next, some “reverse advice” for future generations about how their childhood misdeeds could come back to haunt them, in the words of one exhausted baby-boomer grandma who had just returned from a shopping trip with her four-year-old granddaughter: 

When I’m an old lady, and live with my kids

I’ll refuse to budge, no matter how long they call

When riding the coin-operated car in the mall

I’ll chew gum for lunch and throw a big fit

If for my dessert, it’s ice cream I don’t get

‘Don’t you touch me,’ I’ll yell

As I’m dragged through the store

Past displays of goodies

Where I just want ‘more!’” 

And finally, in the always charming and sometimes bitter-sweet phrasings of Mark Twain, “When parents are old and their children grown up, the grown-up children are not the persons they formerly were; … their former selves have wandered away, never to return again, save in dream-glimpses of their young forms that tarry a moment and gladden the eye, then vanish and break the heart.”

Childhood may whoosh by, like a series of fleeting dreams, and the “selves” we were may slip away along with the left-behind past, so that the grown-ups we become seem like an altogether different individual.  But for those of us blessed with a passel of fond memories, we can always take that step back into “Oh my, what good times” territory and rediscover some of the magic.  If we can take a few dozen people with us for the stroll, all the better.  Sometimes the trip puts things into perspective in a way that nothing else can.

Got a few nuggets to toss into the mix and help continue this guided tour?  We’d all love to hear from you.

Entry filed under: Advice For Life. Tags: , , , , , .

Fall Reflections: Gratitude Revisited Balance: It’s Not Just a Clever Name for Margarine

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