Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Kind of Beautiful

I recently wrote about Merrijane Rice's poem "Stillborn" and how I love it for being so achingly profound.

I also really love Jeanine Bee's very short essay "Hearts of the Fathers" which is beautiful in a very different way. Like, in a way that makes you smile and cringe and laugh out loud (and which makes me think about my relationship with my own father, which makes me smile and cringe and laugh out loud all over again).

You should read it. And live by its motto (I was going to insert a hyperlink, but will spare you the chilling photos of people who have not).

And when you're done, you should come back here and share the most valuable (and/or insane) piece of advice you ever got from a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or other necessary family member. We all learn wisdom in different ways: how was it taught to you?


  1. My mom's advice for everything: You need to drink more water. Have a headache? You need to drink more water. Can't understand your math homework? You need to drink more water. Heartbroken over a boy? You need to drink more water.

    My dad's advice for everything: Location! Location! Location!

    So, I guess in the end, they raised well-hydrated children who are always on the move.

  2. Once in family night we were playing a game and something went wrong and I said, "cheaters never win." My dad quickly jumped in and said, "cheaters ALWAYS win, that's the problem."
    Another time we were watching 'Love Story' and the famous line came up, "Love means you never have to say you're sorry." We were all sitting there misty-eyed and my dad chimed in, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, love means you ALWAYS have to say you're sorry." My dad had a knack for spotting the lie. He was great at it.

    1. I have fond memories of my parents watching TV ads with me and making fun of the logic in them. I think bad media messages are far less threatening when parents with a good sense of humor are able to toss their two cents in.

  3. My dad always said, "Buy low, sell high," and "long courtship, short engagement."

    I preferred this neat and tidy kind of advice to the kind that was preceded by clearing his throat, pushing his glasses up on his nose, and fiddling with his wedding band. That advice always involved technical terms that he thought eased the discomfort of hearing about "you-know-what" from your dad. But as time has gone on, and I realized that he himself hadn't followed his neat and tidy advice, I understood that the less tidy advice was borne of experience and his concern for me. So it sunk deeper and I remember not just the words he shared, but the importance of them.

    I gave my daughter "the talk" when she was 18 months and had rifled through some of my personal items. Now if only that got me off the hook for later...

    1. Well, if you don't want to have "the talk" again, you can just leave an animal husbandry textbook lying around.

      Yep. That was how my grandma got her "sex ed."

  4. I think the one my father repeated the most was "What goes in your mouth?" To which I was always expected to reply "Food and medicine". As I got older, I got cynical, and would say "But Dad, gum isn't food or medicine". Finally came the day when I was allowed to turn it around on him, and asked him "What goes in your mouth?". He immediately looked guilty, and relpied "Food and medicine".

    My mother gave me the one I've used most often, though. "Don't come to me unless you're bleeding". Throughout my life, that has been the judge of my injuries, and mostly of others. And, when I have children, that will be what I pass on.

    1. I had the "what goes in your mouth" conversation with my daughter when she was five or so, but I swear it went on for three days, because we kept going back and forth over additional possible options. Pretty soon it was like whenever she was caught with something in her mouth, we had to open up the inquiry again.
      "What goes in your mouth?"
      "Food, drinks, silverware, straws, the rims of cups if there's a drink in the cup, gum (but only if I'm not in the house and being very careful not to swallow it or let it fall somewhere), thermometers and medicine (but only when mom and dad get them out)...what about the edge of a bowl if I've eaten my cereal but want to drink the milk?"
      Maybe someday she'll become a brilliant contract lawyer or tax accountant and it will all be worth it.

    2. When I was a kid, we also had a rule similar to the bleeding one, but it was "Is the house on fire?"
      So in second grade, when they had us draw our own versions of Whistler's Mother, I had the house on fire with various other storms and natural disasters closing in. But I also had my mom reading a book. I drew myself in the side with a conversation bubble where I told mom about all the emergencies, but all her bubble said was "Uh huh..."
      I don't think my mom ever said anything about the value of a good book, but her periodic immunity from the world around her showed us!

    3. Just mentioned this to my now 7-yr-old daughter, and she immediately pointed out I'd missed "toothbrush."

      Sharp girl.

      So let me add toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, dentists' cleaning tools, those spacers they put in to do x-rays, and tongue depressors at the doctor's office to the list of things that can appropriately go in one's mouth.

  5. When I got married, my mom said to me, "When you get into a big fight with Brent, unless he's actually beating you, don't call me and tell me about it. You and Brent will kiss and make up but I'll still be left with all the bad feelings towards Brent. I don't want to hear it!" Great advice mom.
    She also loved to say, "If you're going to dance, you have to pay the fiddler". Usually after I'd stayed up way too late (as usual) and then had to haul my carcass out of bed for early morning seminary. I hated it when she said that but I know now, and actually knew then that she was only speaking the truth!

    1. Paying the fiddler is pretty great. I may have to start using that one in a few years...



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