by Maria Schulz
Since Father’s Day just passed, I noticed a lot of articles about the great advice that Dads share with their children. One article offered a sampling of the best advice from Dad and another one discussed all the ways that Dad’s advice inspires kids to do their best. Of course, Moms are also well known for their sage advice.
So what was some of the best advice I ever got from my Dad or my Mom?
When my brothers and I wanted to do something that was forbidden but that our friends were allowed to do, my father would say:
“What’s their name?”
We would reply with their name.
“So tell me,” my father would say, “how do you spell their last name?”
We would spell their last names.
“How do you spell your last name?”
We’d spell our last name.
“Your family name is spelled differently than their family name. We don’t do things like those people do. Sorry if you don’t like it. Just remember who you are.”
When someone was mean to me, my mother told me: “Don’t feel bad. They obviously aren’t smart enough to treat you the way you deserve.”
If you had the awful, terrible, bad luck to get caught in a lie, my father said: “Don’t lie to me again. Take your lumps. Lie again and you’ll be in worse trouble.”
My mother used to tell my twin brother and me to never, ever, EVER pick up a hitchhiker when we were old enough to drive. So imagine our horror when she pulled over to the side of the road and picked one up! The kid got in the car and said, “Oh hi Mrs. Lagalante.” And then my mother browbeat this kid for the entire ride, telling him how he could’ve been killed and that she was going to tell his mother. When he got out, we started to yell at our Mom. “You said to never, ever, EVER pick up a hitchhiker!” And our mother looked at us and said, “Sometimes, you have to know when to break a Never, Ever, EVER rule.”
When I asked if I could go to a party on my first ever date, my father gave me permission to go but put the fear of God in me by saying:
“So where’s the party going to be held? Give me the address.”
“Why?” I replied.
“Oh, I might go out for a walk that night and stop by.”
OH NO OH NO OH NO, I thought, but I tried to be cool. I replied, “Okay, I will get you the address.”
I gave my father the address and went to the party. I spent the entire time not really paying attention to my date because I was so worried that my father would burst through the door like the prophet Elijah. Nothing will keep you on the straight and narrow quite like the prospect of your father showing up at a party with your friends.
After hearing my parents get into a huge fight, I was sure that they would end up divorced, and six-year-old me would have to leave my brothers and go live in an orphanage. When my mom tucked me into bed that night and I told her my fears, she burst out laughing. “Aren’t you mad at Dad?” I asked. “Nah,” she replied. “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
The year I graduated from college, my father held impromptu interviews with me so I could keep from getting flustered on a real interview. I made a lot of mistakes, but when I was done, he told me: “It’s just a conversation with another person. Smile, answer the questions as honestly as you can, and make them laugh if possible. If they don’t like you, that’s their problem and you’re better off not working for them.”
While shopping for wedding dresses, my mother never lost her head. “Just pick out the best looking dress you can afford,” she said. “You’ll never wear it again, and your kids won’t want to wear it either.”
When I was freaking out over the last minute details that I thought I had to get just right for my wedding, my father made me sit down on the couch, and told me:
“Just remember. Your wedding day is supposed to be meaningful and fun, but in the end, it’s just a party that lasts a few hours. Focus your energy and attention on the marriage. That’s supposed to last forever.”
As my mother descended into her Alzheimer’s haze, she would occasionally have very lucid moments when we would have long talks. One day, she said to me, “I know you’re worried that I’m suffering, but don’t. What I have isn’t like cancer; I’m not in pain, and nothing hurts. Oh, it bothers me that I can’t remember anything, but you have to remember that in a few minutes, I won’t remember that anyway.”
Here’s the worst advice they ever gave me:
“So what if you’re allergic to red dye–go ahead and eat those cherry ices. Hives never killed anyone.”
“Just smile and be pleasant to Sister Felicity. She’ll forget you’re there.”
“Run down that gigantic hill! You won’t get hurt.”
“You should tell your teachers exactly what you’re thinking.”
“It’ll be fun to share the basement with two homeless girls whose own parents disowned them. They can be like sisters to you!”
“Make sure you tell your father how much you enjoy his cooking. That way, he can do it every Sunday.”
There was nothing quite as amusing as the Sunday afternoon marathon that was known as my father’s day to cook. I wrote about this in my book, Tales From A Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes.
One of the less successful dishes he made was apple turnovers. I think he left them in the oven while he struggled to complete the entrée, and we ended up with apple burnovers.
Try the recipe above and see if you will have better luck. You won’t be sorry– this classic treat is so delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.
So, what was the best advice your parents ever gave you? The worst? Do you like apple turnovers? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!