Dr. Ben Spock (The Other Spock)

What constitutes being a good parent? Does it involve being one of the following types?  I’m inclined to think not.

Helicopter parenting: Being too involved in children’s lives. Not letting them experience failure.

Free-range parenting: Not enough involvement in raising children. Bringing children into the world to either succeed or fail on their own–where perhaps parents should have been involved more.

Snowplow parenting: This has to do with pro-sports parents asserting themselves in children’s careers. Guiding children’s careers from an early age.

Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote baby and child care books, popular when I was a child–and are still in print.  My parents, like most, followed their own beliefs and instincts.

My parents would have more likely swatted my behind, with Dr. Spock’s books than followed his advice.

Why Can’t I Get An Answer?

After being gone for an extended period of time, I tend to get reflective.

Elvis Presley’s “Why Can’t I Get An Answer?” still plays in the background of my head.

What was important to remember from the last three weeks?

Perhaps most important, is that, there aren’t always answers–only more questions.

Dignity can’t be taken away unless we allow it to be.

Confidence in one’s self goes a long way. I learned the hard way.

I hadn’t been around little ones for a long time.  Young children’s minds were like little sponges.  They watched everyone and everything around them.

Things will never again be like they were in my youth.  And, some of that’s a good thing.

Someone, once said, there is more work done before and after vacation, than at any other time.  I can attest to that.


The Kid’s Table

Let’s see a show of hands. How many of you remember the kid’s table? …At Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and family gatherings.

Adults sat in the dining room, discussed the usual.  Was it pass to the left or right?  Nobody ever gave an answer–because, from that point they would be regarded as the family etiquette expert.

“Where did you get all that energy?  My how you’ve grown.  What grade were you in school?  Did you like school this year?”  Questions answered with poker faces, shoulder shrugs, and “I don’t knows.”

Older kids served themselves.  Younger ones had plates fixed by moms, grandmas, aunts, older brothers, and sisters.  “Eat something else besides mashed potatoes.  Take some of these green beans.  No dessert till you’re finished.”  Lots of laughter prevailed, subdued, so, as to not draw attention from the adult table.

Everybody had a cousin Ralphie–or, someone like him.  Cousin Ralphie balanced green peas on his knife, ate disgusting food mixtures–pickled beets, mashed potatoes, and milk.

“Cousin Ralphies” turned their eyelids inside out, to disgusted “ewws” and “ahs” at the kid’s table.  “What did he need ketchup for?”  A self-appointed gastronomic virtuoso, Ralphie shared his secrets on holidays.  Ketchup made everything more palatable.  It was rumored, Ralphie subsisted on ketchup sandwiches at home.

Mid-afternoon, after dishes were cleared, washed, and put away, the oldest adults were first to leave.  Early evening, tears flowed from the eyes of younger ones, that wanted to stay longer.  Moms, sisters, aunts comforted.  Dads weren’t as patient.

My Captain “O,” My Captain

Captain “O,” I owe you an apology.  You’re nowhere near as annoying as the “Talking Box” character in Progressive Insurance commercials.  How would you have fared during the Q & A session, on elementary school career day?  It could have gone, as follows.  

“Are you a real Captain?”

“Why, yes I am–it should be obvious.”

“Is your beard real?” 

“Yes, It happened when I stopped shaving.”

“Are those ropes on your shoulders?”

“Yes, they’re pieces of rope.” 

“A complete rope would be too heavy.”

“I like your hat.”

“Thank you–it’s a Captain’s hat.”

Equilibrium achieved, because answers equaled the questions in annoyance.  Captain “O,” you Sir, are a genius. 

Captain Obvious, thankfully, stayed out of my hair this spring.  He’s been remarkably restrained since his last visit two years ago.  Maybe it’s a new soft-sell for the upcoming vacation season.

A Visit From Captain “O” (And Others Like Him)

I was cleaning winter-killed branches and leaves; enjoying a warm, sunny day in the backyard with my two mutts.  That was, until Captain Obvious came to call.

Captain “O” has become even more obnoxious since becoming a celebrity on television commercials.  I didn’t think that was possible.  He leaned up against a tree, watched me clean and rake the backyard.  On the last trip, he could be silent no longer.

“The reason you have so many leaves and dead branches, is because of the trees,” He observed, stroking his chin.  I wanted to bop him over the head in the worst way; but, refrained–him being a celebrity and all.

“Thanks for the news flash, Genius,”  I muttered under my breath.  “Did you say something, Sir?” The Captain asked.  “No, it wasn’t anything important,” I replied.

I walked back-and-forth, carrying armfuls of branches to a pile near the back fence–careful not to step in random piles of dog droppings.  I hoped Captain “O” wouldn’t notice–but, he did.

“There’s twice the amount of dog excrement in your backyard, because you have two dogs,” Was his burst of brilliance.  Like I would get rid of one of my dogs to cut down on yard mess?  That wasn’t going to happen.

“Well, that’s all for today,” I answered.  “Thanks for stopping by.”  Stay away longer next time–was what I really meant.  I fetched the empty trash bins from the front curb. Lucky for me, the Captain had a sudden boredom attack and left to annoy someone else.

Windows of an Era #20

Another early fifties family picnic, with my two cousins, Neal and Margie; this time there’s a wider range of emotions displayed.  Be sure to notice Atlas tires with wide whitewalls on the billboard in the background.  Left to right–my sister, Marsha; cousin, Neal; older brother, George; younger brother, Jerry; myself; cousin, Margie.

The Question Box & Other Childhood Folkisms #Humor #Families

Now, pipe down as we head down the nostalgic road to yesteryear.  I wouldn’t want to have to put the quietus on you.  Don’t make me turn this car around!  This is a list of parental, grandparental words, phrases, admonitions from childhood–all my selective memory would allow.  There are many more.  I’ve included a link to a similar themed post from another blog I enjoyed reading.

  1. Looking glass:  Mirror
  2. Window light: Window
  3. Hard roads:  Paved highways
  4. Molygrumps:  Being extra grumpy or crabby
  5. Chum, School chum:  Friend or buddy
  6. Footfeed:  Automobile accelerator pedal
  7. Isinglass:  Fireproof, translucent, pot-bellied stove windows
  8. Clinkers:  Cinders, left from burning coal or wood (not to be confused with clunkers)
  9. Coal oil:  Kerosene for heating or lighting
  10. Fagged out:  Tired, exhausted (no slur intended)
  11. Eyes bigger than stomach:  Took more than could eat
  12. Make better door than window:  Penalty for blocking TV
  13. Buying, selling:  Buy for what you’re worth, sell for what you think you’re worth
  14. Flies:  A compliment, You are with it–a sharp dresser:  There are no flies on you.
  15. Fly catching:  Catch more with honey than vinegar
  16. Slop bucket:  Food waste collected to feed hogs
  17. Frogs:  Fine as frog hair.  Valuable, like silk, or fine powder
  18. Toads:  Blinking like toad in hailstorm–insincere or lying
  19. Tickled pink:  Pleased, happy, also “pleased as punch”
  20. Much obliged:  Thankful, obligated for kindness shown
  21. Lolligagging:  Slacking off, laziness, also “goldbricking, dilly-dallying” (see # 22)
  22. Shenanigans:  Mischief, product of idle minds (see # 21)
  23. Three-holer:  Outhouse, privy, capacity for three
  24. Chickens:  Disorganized, like chickens with heads cut off
  25. Going to bed with the chickens:  Retiring at sundown
  26. Spring chicken:  Too old, You’re no spring chicken.
  27. Barns:  Too little, too late–barn door closed after horse was gone
  28. Utility conservation:  Close the door–Were you born in a barn?
  29. Cow patties, pies:  Cow manure, disorganized–running around, falling into
  30. Cow pies & luck:  He could fall into a cow pie, come out smelling like a rose.
  31. Cow’s tail:  Being as slow as the last part of a cow to pass by
  32. Clod hopper(s):  Rube, simpleton, high-top work shoes, farmers favored
  33. Fiddlesticks:  Expression of disdain–also, fine as fiddle dust
  34. Pipe down:  Be quiet–you’re too noisy (see # 35).
  35. Quietus:  Quietness enforced, “Our little darlings didn’t want to go to bed–I put the quietus on that.” In this case, interchangeable with “kibosh.” (see # 34)
  36. Pitchers & ears:  Busybody, eavesdropper–Little pitchers had big ears.
  37. The Question Box:  Answer given in response to too many questions, “It’s a question box–to make you ask questions.”  Then, what is it?  “It’s a question box.”  Anyway–you’ve got the idea.
  38. Crying:  Undesirable behavior–Stop, or I’ll give you something to cry about.
  39. Laughing & bedtime:  Go to bed laughing, you’ll wake up crying.  Was the opposite also true?
  40. Blessed silence:  Children should be seen and not heard.
  41. Paraphrased Biblical reference:  After misbehavior–This is my beloved son in whom I am not so well pleased.



Off To the Farm and Other Lies Told By Parents

Blackie, a sweet old tomcat, was asleep in a clover field, when the sickle bar mower amputated two of his legs.  He lived for several days confined to a cardboard box.

Fluffy, the gray preacher’s daughter’s cat, sent to live on grandpa’s farm met a sad end.  The cat had fleas and was a nuisance for grandma.  No doubt grandpa’s double-barreled shotgun, sent Fluffy to the big litter box in the sky.

They were lies told to protect innocent children’s sensibilities–when in fact these unwanted pets were sent away to meet their demise.  “Brownie ran away and got lost in the woods.”

Debbie’s cat, Fluffy was, “Going to live the rest of her days on the farm with the other animals.”

Blackie was the lucky one.  He was euthanized by a local veterinarian–against my father’s wishes.  Mother just did it–didn’t ask for approval.

The lies were mean and cruel.  Spay and neuter.  Stop the exploding pet population.

What to do with unwanted pets?   Don’t dump pets off on other people that don’t want them.

Parents, please don’t give cute dyed chicks and bunnies to your kids this Easter.

There are still too many people that dump unwanted pets in the country.  These meet their demise in cruel ways, unless they’re rescued by no-kill shelters.