- Family and Parenting»
Through the eyes of a child
Very cool dog food!
“Why does this dog food have this little thingy on here?” immediately after asking that question, my thoughts were ‘oh crap’. It was my job to feed our poodle, Chee-Chee at 5 pm, sharp. She patiently waited by her dish while I would crumble the ‘Gaines Burger’ patty into it. I have always been a ‘question asker’ and some of my questions were beginning to drive my Dad nuts. I think Mom was either used to it or she ignored me for the most part, unless I was buggin’ for an answer. Then I might get an answer in an exasperated tone.
Dad on the other hand, now he was a different story. He didn’t mind answering questions that had merit, it was the nonsensical ones that bothered him. This one was considered nonsensical, hence the ‘oh crap’. Just the day prior he had told me “If you ask one more question you are going to have to write someone and ask them.” Within seconds of me asking this he replied with a devious smile “I don’t know, why don’t you write them and ask.”
Dad has never been the kind of father to set you to a task and leave it up to you to do it, he will either stay by your side or check your progress until it is finished. So I got myself some paper and a pencil (I was only about 8 or 9 at this time, I wasn’t allowed to use pens) and proceeded to do the most hated chore, ever. Write. It had to be a good letter he said, one that people wanted to read. So I wrote, and rewrote until I got it right. I don’t remember the exact words but it went something like this;
Dear Sir: (Most heads of corporations were men at that time)
My name is Susan and it is my job to feed our poodle her supper. I was opening the package of Gaines Burgers and I noticed the a little piece of cellophane that hangs over the side, is this to make it easier to open? My Dad said if I asked one more question, I had to write and ask.
(I had to get help spelling that word, cellophane)
My Mom helped me find the address that was on the box of dog food and she gave me a stamp, she probably giggled all the while she was doing this. I’m sure they thought I would never ask another stupid question again. Within a week or two I received a reply. Mom never opened someone else’s mail, so it was waiting for me when I got home from school. She stood by me when I read it, probably more curious than I was. The reply went something like this;
Thank you for your letter! Yes, the Gaines Burger package is designed with a tab for easier opening. Tell your Dad, if you don’t ask questions, how will you ever know the answer. For taking the time to write us we have included a coupon for a free 24 pack of dog food.
Sincerely, (I no longer remember the name)
The letter may have been a little longer than that but I remember the coupon being for more than we normally bought. We usually got the 12 pack. Mom was ecstatic, free stuff! Dad, well I’m not sure what he thought. But he did say something like “See, when you write letters you get answers”.
It didn’t stop me from asking questions, but it did teach me to think them out a little better, before asking.
Dad's LOOKED this good...
Chocolate Chip cookies
Dad’s day job was a ‘Fire Protection Engineer’, which meant he did a lot of thinking and using his mind during the day. On the weekends he liked to work with his hands, and he was very good at this. We had purchased a 3 bedroom house with a basement in Kentwood, Mi, and had moved in before I started second grade. A year or so later my folks decided it was time to ‘finish’ the basement. So on weekends that is what they did.
Sunday’s were my day to cook, I think it must have been more to keep me out of the way, and keep me busy. No matter, I took my job very seriously. Mom would tell me what we were having for dinner and I made it. Every now and then I got to decide, for the most part, everyone was pleased with what I made. It always made me feel good to hear them oooh and aaah over my food. It didn’t matter if all I did was ‘keep an eye’ on it in the oven, I cooked. My first ‘real’ food was mashed potatoes, I peeled, cut, and cooked them, then got to mash them when they were done.
I got so talented in my cooking that I think it went to my head. One day Dad decided he was going to make ‘his specialty’, chocolate chips cookies. He had made them when he was a bachelor and did a great job, or so he said. We always wanted to try them and now was the time. If he could make them as good as Mom, then that would be something to behold! Of course me being the self ‘appointed chef‘, I had to help. He didn’t seem to mind, I knew were all the stuff was and could find it for him easily. We began our cookie adventure!
The butter is always hard so I was grateful that Dad did the mixing, he added and stirred, while I kept an eye on him making sure it was done right. He put them on the cookies sheet and as he was sliding them in the oven I remembered “We forgot the salt!” “Mom says you always have to use salt in cookies.” Rather than put the cookies back in the bowl and do some more mixing, I got out the salt shaker. Dad said “Are you sure you want to do that?” as I began salting the cookies. “oh yes, you can’t forget the salt!” was my reply.
Dad has never quite forgiven me, for salting his cookies. He has made them since, but never when I am around.
Mom had Diplomacy...
Cooking became something that I tried to get better at over time, and sometimes I do a fairly good job. Fall came around (as it usually does) and with it Apple Season. Mom was always putting up canned goods like tomatoes, peaches, green beans and of course applesauce (she made a fantastic cake with this). She thought one year that we might like some Apple butter. Dad and I had to get in on this. So Mom made the applesauce for us and we each got a pot to make our own apple butter. We secretly seasoned each pot to our liking and put it on the stove to cook. From time to time we’d go out in the kitchen and stir, one yelling to the other to stir for them. There was always the admonition that was added “Don’t do anything other than stir!” particularly addressed to me. I guess he thought I was going to add salt to it!
We cooked and stirred for hours, every now and then tasting, just to see if it was perfect. Of course we had to taste each others. I tasted Dad’s and I know he tasted mine! It was one of those things, you couldn’t pass by without tasting. We ribbed one another at whose was going to taste the best. I was positive mine would be better, after all I’d spent more time in the kitchen than he did. He was positive his would be better, he was older!
We finally decided that Mom was going to be the Judge! Neither one of us wanted the cooking process to stop, we both felt the longer it cooked the better it was getting. Finally Mom could take it no longer and deemed cooking time was over. So we waited patiently for her to give us the verdict, she tasted mine and she tasted Dad’s. She thought about it for a minute then had to taste again. “Let me try some on bread”, was her next comment. Dad and I both had big grins on our faces each one determined that ‘ours’ was the best. Finally Mom came to her decision, “They both are wonderful, now let‘s put them in jars”. “Yeah, but whose is better?” She never did give me an answer, she would always say they were both good. I even asked her in secret, when Dad wasn’t around. She still maintained they were both very good.
I will not be a Wise Ass
As it will happen when a child gets older, their mouth sometimes writes checks their ass can’t cash. I was one of these children. Mom always warned me “One of these days your mouth is going to get you in trouble”. It has happened more times than I can count, but one time in particular I remember, because of the consequences.
I was doing something that I shouldn’t be, I don’t remember what now, but Dad made a comment “Keep that up and I’m going to kick you in the pants”. Me being reared by my Dad, and truly being his daughter replied “Is it gonna make me Dance?” Apparently at that time he wasn’t joking, as I soon found out. Dad had to think of my punishment for a minute, then decided I had to write sentences. 500 of them! Writing again!! I hated writing!
I had a teacher whose favorite punishment was writing sentences. He hated me, I think I owed him about 10,000 sentences before the year was out. Mr. Faulkenstein, he was mean, he made all the girls write sentences. He said “Girls should be flushed down the toilet at birth.” all the boys got hugs, but us girls got lined up against the wall whenever we did something wrong, like breathe. Mine were always for the same thing “I will not talk in class”, or something along that order. I usually started out in 500 increments, then the more exasperated he got they went up. We all knew he never read them, he just did it to keep us busy, like homework wasn’t enough. So it seemed that I was forever writing these, as Dad was well aware.
My sentences were to read “I will not be a wise ass”, they had to be done by the weekend. Well I might not get to swear out loud, but I could do it in writing. A friend of Mom’s was taking her son and his cousins to see ‘Kiss’ in concert and needed someone to ride with them, she asked if we wanted to go. Dad of course had an argument “Susan needs to stay and write her sentences”. Mom assured him that I would keep writing, it was Thursday so I needed to keep going, if I wanted them done by Friday.
As we rode I wrote. When we got to Cobo Hall I longingly looked around for a scalper selling tickets. I REALLY wanted to go to this concert, I had never been to a concert and gosh, KISS!! Mom had told me if someone is selling tickets she’d pay for me (I’d have to pay her back of course). It would be so cool for me to go back to school and tell all my friends that I had been to Cobo Hall in Detroit to see Kiss in concert! I’d be a hit! But it was not to be, there was no one out there selling tickets.
I went back with Mom and her friends to hang out with the adults. They sat around the table having a few drinks while I wrote sentences. Of course there were comments from the women. They didn’t understand why I had to write them. Mom told them it was because of my mouth. After a few more drinks Mom decided that Dad wasn’t going to ’read’ every sentence and wanted my paper. No matter how small you write, it still takes a lot of sheets of paper to write 500 sentences. Into about the 6th paper or so, Mom decided to write her own sentence. I was relieved to be able to give my hand a break, I was getting a cramp. It was some smart ass remark, I don’t remember what it was, but after she wrote it I got scared that I was going to get into trouble.
Her friends were roaring with laughter, oh geez. I was in such BIG trouble!! Mom swore that if I got in trouble for it she would take the blame. Yeah, but Dad was still gonna be mad at me for letting her do so, was my thought. Finally I was finished, my 500 sentences were done. I tried hiding Mom’s comment as best as I could, even going so far as to staple the papers together. This was one time I didn’t want anyone to read my sentences.
We went back to pick up the kids, they were flushed with joy, grinning from ear to ear, having had a great time. I was so jealous. It had begun to rain and being cold of course it was icy, we carefully made our way home. It was late so I didn’t get to give my sentences to Dad right then. I would have to wait until he got home the next afternoon from work. So that meant I had to go a whole day being nervous, afraid he would find Mom’s sentence. When the time came, I handed the stack of paper over to him. He said “All done? All 500?” “Yep”. I gave him a minute to peruse the pages, then as soon as I possibly could I asked “Can I go outside now?” He replied “If you’re sure you’re finished you can.” I hauled butt out of there as fast as I could.
I never did know if Dad found Mom’s sentence, but if he did, he never told me. And of course I waited until I was an adult to make more “Wise Ass” comments. Which he now seems to appreciate, since I sound so much like him with them.