Yesterday was Mother's Day, both here and at home. In honour of the occasion, I present to you a sampling of things my mother taught me.
Put your napkin on your lap. Get your elbows off the table. Use the butter knife. Take the cookie closest to you. Wayward elbows were liable to be skewered with Mom's fork when we were little. Heck. I think I was skewered once or twice last Christmas. As irritating as that might have been, I'm glad to have good table manners that I can pull out when the situation demands it.
Brush your teeth over the sink. Have to admit, I've never really warmed to this one. I like to wander about the house as I brush my teeth. Is that weird?
Say thank you to Daddy. Mom always reminded us to thank Dad for a nice meal out or a safe drive home, just as we were taught to thank friends for visiting and grandparents for Christmas presents. What I learned from this was not to take any gift or kindness for granted. When someone does something for you, you thank them - whether the service they provided for you was their responsibility or not.
Never put someone else down to make yourself look big. Mom said this over and over, especially when Pamela and I were being less than nice to each other. Certainly I try to abide by this rule. If you ever see me break it, slap me upside the head, okay?
Ask open-ended questions. When I was a squirt of eight or nine, I could go an entire school day without speaking to any of my classmates. At lunch, I would eat my sandwich as I worked my way through the basket of books set out on the table. When my mom learned that I was eating lunch by myself every day, she tried to teach me how to go about carrying on a conversation with the other kids. One of the things she said was to ask questions that couldn't be answered with a single word. It's an excellent trick that has gotten me out of having to actually speak myself upon many occasions.
Don't eat the white berries. There were bushes in the back of our yard in Buffalo that produced these delightfully squishable white berries. When I was wee, they were an essential ingredient in my specialty sandbox stew and the ideal topping for sandbox tacos. My mom lived in fear that we would decide to sample the toxic result of our culinary efforts. At the time, I thought her concern was unwarranted. Why would I want to eat something that wasn't Kraft Dinner, Cheerios, or a peanut butter sandwich? But now that I am grown up and aware of my propensity to lose myself in wooded areas, this is a tidbit of wisdom I am grateful to have.
Car rides provide an excellent opportunity for discussion. Alternatively: don't get in the car with your mother if you're looking for peace and quiet. All the discussions you don't want to have because they are stressful/awkward/incriminating/likely to result in work on your part? Mothers hoard them. They store them up, wait until you're belted into the car, zipping along the thruway at 50 mph and without means of escape, and then they set the hounds on you. I've never dared to launch my own attack. One day, perhaps.
Many more things come to mind, but this is only meant to be a brief list. I am lucky to have a mom who knows so many things and takes such pleasure in imparting wisdom on her offspring. Happy Mother's Day to the world's best Maternal Unit.