Monday, December 04, 2006
The CBC afternoon radio show recently had a thing where they were collecting so-called "Parenting Tips", i.e. things your parents told you to get you to behave as a child. Here's my collection.
My mother always told me that if I crossed my eyes, they would stay that way. I believed her until I was old enough to know better (age 25) and I still feel pangs of guilt when I cross them! However, her admonition worked. I rarely crossed my eyes at anybody until I grew up and realized she had been LYING to me!
Along these lines, Mum also told me that if I made a face by pulling the corners of my mouth back with my fingers, it would stay that way. Again, I believed her. Hard to believe I was a straight-A student in school, eh? (i.e. one of the "smart" ones!)
I was a very hungry child (I think I have always had a speedy metabolism). Whenever I complained of hunger, my dear mother would ask me if I had worms. I had a fear of worms in my stomach until I was a teenager. I seriously believed a gigantic tapeworm was devouring all my meals for me. This technique of my mother's did NOT work as a deterrent, however, as I continued to ask for food when hungry. It never occurred to me to ask her why she didn't give me medication to kill off these worms.
When I didn't finish a meal (rare), Mum also enjoyed alerting me to the fact that my eyes were bigger than my belly. I spent a lot of time wondering just how tiny my stomach was if two eyeballs were bigger than it. Otoh, I have pretty large eyes. Even my opthamologist says so.
Mum loved to tell me that if I cracked my knuckles, I would get arthritis. I am now 42 and still cringe if I even ACCIDENTALLY crack my knuckles. God forbid I should invite arthritis into my joints!
Somewhere along the way, my mother the quasi-observant Catholic told me that every time I sinned, my golden soul would turn a little more black. If my entire soul turned black, well, HELLO HELL! Satan is my master! This worked reasonably well as a technique for keeping me in line. I strove to prevent my last patch of untouched soul from darkening forever. However, I am now a completely lapsed Catholic with no religion whatsoever and I am certain my entire soul is blacker than tar and beyond any sort of redemption. Sorry, Mum! But I still believe in God, if that helps.
My mother told me that if I shaved my legs and armpits, the hair would grow back four times as thick. I was terrified to shave my legs, but eventually embarrassment outweighed fear. At age 13, I went to the drugstore and secretly bought a razor. I never did tell my Mum that I had started shaving my legs and pits! I wonder if she noticed?
Mum warned me that if I swallowed a cherry pit, it would stay in my stomach forever. Ditto for chewing gum. If I ate a peach pit, a tree would grow in my stomach. I'm surprised I can still swallow anything (shut up Gordon)! And I got in real trouble any time I blew bubbles in my drink with a straw. Nowadays I do it just because I can.
(KIDS! Don't read this part!) My mother did manage to keep me believing in Santa Claus until I was almost 12. The day she told me that Santa wasn't real, I was quite shocked, and I had to ask... "What about the Easter Bunny, then?" Out came the brutal truth, and I quickly realized that the Tooth Fairy was also a fantasy. Bummer, man.
Mum died nine years ago, but her dubious wisdom will be with me forever. My tarnished soul and I miss her greatly. Excuse me, I have to go crack my knuckles now.