Sunday, March 28, 2010

"AND WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?"

by Suzanne

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say things to you like, "If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?" (That depends on why my friends are jumping off cliffs), or "Eat all your vegetables, because kids in China are starving." (Would me eating my vegetables actually stop them from starving?) or "Close the door, were you born in a barn? (I don't know, you were the adult in the room, not me--yes I was a sarcastic child and paid dearly for it). Those are the phrases we heard over and over, that made us swear we'd never say those things to our kids when we got around to having them.

Thankfully, I tried not to quote these to my kids. I did however, come up with a few of my own, some of which they say they can't wait to use on my poor grandbabies.

1. "Mom, can you make me a sandwich?"
Me: "Poof, you're a PB&J sandwich."
Them: "Awww, Mom, that's not what I meant."

2. Them, whining: "I'm hungry"
Me: "Hi, Hungry, my name's Mom, glad to meet you."
Them: "Awww, Mom, that's not what I meant."

3. Them, "You make me do chores just cause you're mean."
Me: "My job is to teach you how to be a functional human being when you leave my home. Being mean is a side benefit."
Them: "Awww, Mom."

(Aren't you glad I wasn't YOUR mother?)

Yes, my poor grandbabies will have to deal with all these questions and comments.

When my son was in middle school he did something stupid. Have no idea what it was, just typical teenage stuff to get into trouble, but not too dangerous. When I sat him down the next day to give him a lecture about it, he said, "Yeah, I know" in that slightly insolent way young teens have when they know they've done wrong, but don't really want to admit it. I thought a moment about how to get the point across so that he'd really listen. (That's him with his niece below.)

Me: "Yes, I know you know how stupid this was and I'd rather be cleaning the oven than dealing with your behavior, but see, I'm required to give you this lecture."
Him: "Required? By who?"
Me: "It's listed in the mother's handbook, page 35."
Him: "Mother's handbook? I've never seen it."
Me: "It's an invisible book of LIFE LESSONS, given to new mother's on the day they have their kids. Each stupid thing you do or are thinking of doing is required a certain lecture. Today's lecture is on page 35."
(I think we're up to page 260 by now and in the chapter on finances.)

And then there's my favorite parental comment. "And what have we learned?"

This is for those times when I want to see what they think of their behavior. If it was something good or bad. Did their actions give them the results they were looking for or end in some sort of disaster? Uhm, coming from me, I expect them to realize the decision they'd made probably wasn't a good one and not worth repeating. Their answer is usually prefaced with a deep sigh and a great deal of eye-rolling. (They are my kids after all.)

Unfortunately for my coworkers, the occasional doctor or patient, this comment gets repeated at work, too! Mostly getting laughter as the response.

So what does this have to do with writing?

In a good book, the main characters have to grow and change throughout their journey. They shouldn't be the same at the end of the book as they were at the beginning. In mysteries, they should've increased their deductive and observation skills to solve the mystery. In an adventure tale, the hero should have discovered he has more abilities than he'd ever thought in order to make the journey and save the day. In a romance, the hero AND heroine must change and grow in order to allow love into their world and gain their HEA.

So dear friends, what have we learned? What hero or heroine have you read recently that has learned a great life lesson and achieved their goal? Have you ever had to take a step back and evaluate your own behavior or decision making ability and learn from a certain situation? Got any good parenting lines you'd like to share?

47 comments:

Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Well he will be having dinner tonight with Jayden and Hayley and they are sure to keep him busy LOL

Suz
Very good post love your comments to your kids I have used most of them with my kids as well and I am sure that my kids use them with their kids here in Australia the door closing one we say were you born in a tent LOL.
When I talk to my kids they always tell me it is the look on my face that gets to them even now as adults they will still look at me sometimes and say what have I done because of my facial expressions LOL.

I do love it in a romance book when the hero or heroine decide that they will never love but it happens and the shock of them dicovering that they are in love is always a great part of a story for me.

Off to cook dinner for the family and tomorrow we will be taking Jayden to the movies to see To Tame A Dragon this will be his first trip to the movies should be fun and I am sure the GR will enjoy it as well.

Have Fun
Helen

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Helen, WTG on snagging the GR! I hope he doesn't eat too much popcorn at the movies. ;-)

GREAT POST, Suz! And I LOVE your "What have we learned?" I've actually used the "jump off a cliff" line more than once with my son. My other fave line (this was only after he became an older teen), which I still use is: Yes, and people in h*ll want ice water. Doesn't mean they're gonna get it!

Now, my son even says that one back to me sometimes. HA!

When he was very little (about 5 or 6) I used to hold up my hand and say, "See this? Wanna feel it?" I never actually smacked him but he quickly learned that the minute I held up my hand he was IN TROUBLE! As soon as I raised my hand he would wail, "I don't wanna feel it!" I'm surprised somebody didn't call Child Protective Services on me! LOL!

Donna MacMeans said...

Helen - The rooster is headed back downunder. He just can't stay away.

Suz - My favorite line when the kids would whine (and they always whine) "You're so mean!" was "It's my last name - deal with it."

Speaking of whining - I was one of those people who always misplaced their car keys until a friend gave me this little gadget that would beep if you whistled. I'd look around my cluttered office for the keys, whistle, and the beeping would lead me right to them. Except...turns out the frequency of a whistle is the exact same frequency of kid's whining. They'd be in the back seat whining about something and those darned keys would be beeping up a storm. Of course, once the kids heard that - it became a contest between them about setting the gadget to beeping. Needless to say - the gadget went into the trash and I went back to misplacing my keys (grin).

Tawny said...

OMG Suz, I love this post!!! I was laughing so hard I had tea dribbling down my chin but I didn't care because as soon as I got to the next paragraph, I just laughed harder.

I love the rule book.

And what have I learned today? That talking to my mom really does make a tummy ache better, even though I'm really old now *g*. That movie theater popcorn for dinner will still give me a tummy ache (and require a call to my mother). And that being a good girl and getting my exercise and chores done before I start writing --even though the story was so bright and clear in my head when I woke up-- will ruin that bright clarity and make it harder to write in the evening. So yes, I should always blow off my responsibilities to write. Always.

:-D

Nora Roberts is Queen for writing characters that make me learn. She has such an amazing way of creating them, showing their growth and their strength and making me think, hey- I can do that or overcome that, too.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Helen! Congrats on nabbing the GR!

When I talk to my kids they always tell me it is the look on my face that gets to them even now as adults they will still look at me sometimes and say what have I done because of my facial expressions LOL...

Isn't it nice to know that you can still breathe some fear into them as grown adults? hehehe

And I hope Jayden enjoys the movie! You know Gerard Butler is the voice of one of the characters in that movie, don't you? (I don't know which one.)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Cindy!

My mother used the ice water in h*ll line, too. She also had some sneaky tricks up her sleaves. One was to tell us we could say whatever hateful thing we wanted to our sibling, but we must do it with a smile. It backfired on her though. To this day my sister and I can look someone in the eye, smile and say something non-flattering!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Donna!

I'm with you, I'd rather have the inconvenience of losing my keys than listening to kids whine.

And lucky you on the Name line. Not only was you last name, but a Scottish meanie!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Tawny!

Glad I could add some levity to your morning! (Aren't you glad I wasn't YOUR mother?)

And I'll loan you my invisible Mother's handbook any time you wish to use it!

Sounds like you didn't have a good night last night. Tummy feeling better this morning?

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

Suz, fun, fun, funny! I think you should write a book called "Golden Comebacks for Moms" or something like that. Wish I could think of some of these things. I used to be pretty good with the sarcastic quips with friends, but not with my daughter.

I really don't remember comebacks my mom used on my sisters and me. My husband, though, likes to say, "You want something to cry about? I'll give you something to cry about." Men don't see the funny side of parenthood sometimes.

Kirsten said...

Hey Suz, these are great quotes -- love them all!

Donna, that's an awesome story about the key gaget. My kids definitely know how to whine -- I'm sure the thing would never last more than a few days in our house.

My favorite mom-moment happens fairly often around here, when my kids tell me I'm mean. I tell them yes, it's my job to be mean. ;-) This tends to come up frequently when I'm combing my daughter's hair. Her: "Mom, STOP pulling! You're hurting me!" Me: "Yes, I'm doing that on purpose. I'm trying to make it hurt. It has nothing to do with these enormous tangles in your hair. It's just because I'm MEAN. It's my job. I'm TRYING to be mean. Really."

Kirsten said...

Helen, I love the "were you born in a tent" line! I want to use that on my kids. LOL.

jo robertson said...

That was hilarious, Suzanne. What a fun parent you were/are!

Actually, my favorite line I learned from my daughters to teach children to ask properly for what they want.

Kid: "I'm hungry."
Me: "That's not a question."
Kid: "Please can I have an apple?"

What's fun is using the line on Dr. Big, tee hee.

jo robertson said...

Boy, oh boy, Helen, the rooster's sure to be exhausted after spending a day with your grandkids.

I hadn't heard the "Were you born in a tent" comment. That's a good one.

jo robertson said...

Hey, AC! It's good to have you back. I'll bet you have all sorts of snarky sayings you use. I've even picked up some of them LOL.

Your boy's such a sweet, polite man I can't imagine your ever giving him the hand :-D.

jo robertson said...

OMG, orange juice just spewed all over my computer, Donna. That's too funny.

jo robertson said...

That's so true, Tawny. Even when you're old and wearing gads and gads of purple, your mom can make things better.

jo robertson said...

Deb said, "I used to be pretty good with the sarcastic quips with friends, but not with my daughter."

This is so true. I think it's because they know how to push the right buttons!

jo robertson said...

Kirsten said, "This tends to come up frequently when I'm combing my daughter's hair. Her: "Mom, STOP pulling!"

Kirsten, this reminds me of the nightmare of trying to brush my Kennan's hair, which was so thick and coarse I swear I didn't get a comb through it in 3 years! Now she has a daughter with the same kind of hair and the line Kennan uses is, "Maybe I'll let Grammy Jo comb your hair."

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Suz, I agree with Deb! You need to write that "Rule Book and Comebacks for Moms." ;-)

And Jo, my son was just reading over my shoulder and started snorking over your comment that he was sweet and polite. His snarky comment, "She doesn't know me very well." LOL!

AC
who was convinced her son would never LIVE to see 15, or 16, or 17...

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Helen! How is the GR as a babysitter? If he's watching the kids, who is watching him? Boggles the mind!

I needed a good laugh this morning, Suzanne! Thank you!

When we would complain that something wasn't fair my Dad would say "Life is frequently unfair. Deal with it."

or he would say

"You want fair, play baseball. Otherwise you just have to deal with what is thrown at you."

My Mom, on the other hand, never had to say much. It was always THE LOOK. She could whip that thing out like Dirty Harry with a 357 and reduce you to a smoking heap.

If she asked you a question and didn't get the response she wanted she would give you that look and say "Excuse me?" That's it. Just excuse me and we would look at each other like "Oh crap! What's the right answer? What's the right answer?"

The hilarious thing is that my brothers say I have perfected that look and I use it on my dogs! All I have to do is step outside on my porch, look at the offending dog or dogs and say "Excuse me?" and they freeze in their tracks, look at each other, look at me and start wagging their tails as if to say "What? I wasn't doing anything!"

Nancy said...

Hey, Suz, that's an intriguing post. All romance heroines and heroes learn a lesson of some kind. They're often about trust, in some way or another. I'm drawing a total blank right now, and of course I'd have plenty of examples if you hadn't asked for any! *g*

In the parenting universe, we've had it pretty easy so far. The boy conforms to that first child stereotype of being well behaved. The phrase we used most often was probably "It's not appropriate, in these circumstances . . ."

Helen, congrats on the rooster. I'm glad the kids will be keeping him occupied. He mostly sulked through his visit here.

Nancy said...

Donna, I love the line about your name! The gadget story was a hoot, too.

Nancy said...

Tawny, I'm sorry you have a bad tummy. I hope it'll be better by tomorrow.

Joan said...

Well, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here, not having children and can't actually "call" my Mom though I do talk to her.

A lesson learned (which you'd think I'd have gotten before age 5...um, my age) is that I cannot fix everything. I can BE there for family and friends but I PERSONALLY cannot fix everything...even though I want to cause I can't stand to see them upset/worried/sick etc.

Sigh....

I also today learned that I really DON'T need more than 10 cans of soup...esp. when some of the expiration dates were 2002!!!

Cabinet cleaning...gotta love it!

jo robertson said...

This is such a delightful topic, I had to come back, Suz!

I lived in Germany from the age of 6 until 10 and apparently this story is big there because my mom always told me when I didn't eat everything on my plate (as parents of the Depression are wont to do).

A girl refused to eat her soup for lunch, so her mother saved it for dinner, and then breakfast the next day, lunch, and dinner again. This went on until the girl grew weaker and weaker and finally died.

The mother brought the bowl of soup and put it on her grave.

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT STORY??!! And it didn't make me clean my plate either!

jo robertson said...

Nancy, my oldest daughter doesn't even have to say something's not appropriate, she just lifts an eyebrown! Shannon says she got that from me, but I don't remember my children behaving nearly as well as hers do. They're nearly perfect!

jo robertson said...

Louisa said, "You want fair, play baseball. Otherwise you just have to deal with what is thrown at you."

That's a good one! Why is it that kids expect life to be fair? I don't remembering ever believing that, but I'm sure I used the phrase.

jo robertson said...

Louisa also said, "My Mom, on the other hand, never had to say much. It was always THE LOOK. She could whip that thing out like Dirty Harry with a 357 and reduce you to a smoking heap."

ROTFLMAO!! I really needed that metaphor, Louisa. Doesn't every child dread THE LOOK? I never got it from my mom but, boy, did my father know how to put the fear of God in me!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Deb!

Congrats on the RITA nominations, by the way!!

Men don't see the funny side of parenthood sometimes....

They really don't, do they? When we lived in Florida, my son was about 7 or 8 and came in from the lanai (back porch) and he said, "look at my earrings, mom." Now, I could've got all upset over that, but when I looked to see what he was talking about, I saw he had a small geco attached to each ear, by their teeth! Husband got all blustery, "like boys don't wear earrings."

Me?

I was busy laughing and threatening to kill him if those things got loose in the house!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Kirsten!

My mom used to have to put up with that from my little sister who had this long blonde hair. She told her "if you don't hold still, I'll just cut it all off." Sami said, "cut it off!" So Mom took her to the local barber shop, and he wacked it off in one long pony tail!!!!

What did Sami learn?

1. Mom means what she says.
2. Be careful what you ask for.
3. Short hair was wayyyyyyyy easier to care for!!

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, looks like you've got a chook to keep Jayden and Hayley company today! Congrats.

Suz, kacked myself laughing at your post today. Oh, mothers! They've got a million of them.

Mine was brought up on a very poor dairy farm in country Queensland and seemed to have more sayings than most - it's something about close-knit rural communities I think.

I was a kid who asked 'why?' a lot, which probably won't surprise the Banditas. Mum's response was "Y's a crooked letter and Z's no better." Hmm, what can you say to that? Or I used to say when I was in trouble that "I thought such and such" to explain what I'd done. She'd say, "You know what thought did? He planed a feather and thought he'd grow a chook." Hmm, not much you can say to that either!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Suz, I agree with Deb! You need to write that "Rule Book and Comebacks for Moms."...

Thanks Deb and AC.

Here's one I used on my son when he was about 17.

He's stretched out on the couch, I'm dressed in my scrubs, work bag and purse on my shoulder, sun glasses on, car key in hand.

Son: "Hey Mom, what's for dinner."
Me: "Do I look like I'm cooking?"
Son: "Uh no, just wondered what we should do for dinner."
Me: "You know how to cook, there's food in the house, the pizza place's number is on the fridge and your dad has a car to go get something. If you starve, you're stupid."

Yep, never got asked that one again.

Anna Campbell said...

That should be PLANTED a feather. Sorry - only just out of bed when I commented! Brain wasn't awake yet.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Louisa!

If she asked you a question and didn't get the response she wanted she would give you that look and say "Excuse me?"...

OMG! I could so hang out with your mom!

As often as I used humor and sarcasm and wit to try to make my kids think or get the lesson, (because I believe people listen better when anger has been diffused), THIS....THIS.... "EXCUSE ME?" was the one sure fired sign to my kids that they'd truly crossed the line.

All three of them would stop dead in their tracks, phsycially and verbally, when that very quiet comment came out of my mouth, usually accompanied by the Mr. Spock one eybrow lift.

Hubby asked me once how that worked better than yelling, (his usual modus operendi).

I said, "I only use it when necessary and quiet authority with the possibility of violence works better than hours of screaming."

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Nancy!

All romance heroines and heroes learn a lesson of some kind. They're often about trust, in some way or another. I'm drawing a total blank right now, and of course I'd have plenty of examples if you hadn't asked for any! *g*...

I can cheat because last night I finished Cathy Maxwell's "The Marriage Ring" and the lessons both hero and heroine had to learn before they could have their HEA were multi layered, but very easy for the reader to get. Since this is a new book, I'll just say anyone wanting to see how the "WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED" premise of fiction works should take the time to see how Cathy presented it. The book flows very well, too and I'd just gobble up the hero Richard Lystead!

Nancy said...

Jo, I was greatly pleased when I realized I could do the single eyebrow lift. However, I've never tried it in parenting situations.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Joanie!

A lesson learned (which you'd think I'd have gotten before age 5...um, my age) is that I cannot fix everything. I can BE there for family and friends but I PERSONALLY cannot fix everything...even though I want to cause I can't stand to see them upset/worried/sick etc...

This is what makes you a good friend and caring nurse! It's also what can drain you and burn you out, so you probably have learned the lesson that it's important to take care of you, physically, emotionally and spiritually, too.

Nancy said...

Joan, I still have a corner of my brain that thinks it should be possible to fix everything.

If you get on a roll with the cabinets, please come down here. Ours haven't been thoroughly cleaned in, well, quite a long time.

Suzanne Welsh said...

OH Jo, that Germany story wouldn't have flown for me either, not as a kid or a parent.

One of the things my hubby never got was that you had to threaten consequences that would actually happen. He'd tell the kids, "Eat your dinner or I'll put in in you pillow and you'll have to sleep on it."

Now was that really going to happen? No. The kids knew bullcrap when they heard it.

But, eat your dinner or you go to bed hungry and won't eat until breakfast tomorrow, followed by that actually happening once or twice, worked like a charm!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Karen!

Mum's response was "Y's a crooked letter and Z's no better." Hmm, what can you say to that? Or I used to say when I was in trouble that "I thought such and such" to explain what I'd done. She'd say, "You know what thought did? He planed a feather and thought he'd grow a chook." Hmm, not much you can say to that either!... I see how your mom worked. She kept you CONFUSED!!! Another great motherism!! hehehe

I love the quote, "If you can't beat them with the truth, dazzle them with bullsh*t".

Suzanne Welsh said...

OH yeah, and the MOTHER'S HANDBOOK? The good thing is you can find justification for any lecture you want in it. It's invisible to kids after all!!

Nancy said...

Suz, I do like invisible handbook thing. :-)

Joan said...

It's also what can drain you and burn you out, so you probably have learned the lesson that it's important to take care of you, physically, emotionally and spiritually, too.

Yup, the hard way :-0

And Nancy...I'm still recovering from doing mine. I had to (shudder) CHANGE something and move my glasses down one shelf!!!

I don't like change :-)

Pat Cochran said...

If our parents called us by our
full names, we knew we might as
well line up! And if Daddy called me "Patrick Ann," I knew I was dead, there was no hope for me! As for my children, I borrowed the look that Mother used on us. Even now, my four will head for the hills (or another room) if they spot the look!

Pat Cochran

MsHellion said...

My dad's favorite "line" was (in response to me saying "I want a pony" or "I want some jeans" or "I want an ice cream"): "It's okay to want things." And if he was feeling particularly loquacious, he'd continue with: "But life is not about getting everything you want. And it's good not to get everything you want. You'll find out you can get along without it."

This did not matter to me when I was 8. It mattered even less when I was 16. But I can see some of the benefits now.

Love the writing parallel! Thanks for the inspiration. :) I need to think about what my characters are going to learn. I think it's mostly about not taking each other for granted, but they might surprise me. They might learn something even more.