Saturday, November 19, 2005

My Mom

My mom has the Fickle Finger of Fate, which she inherited from her mother. I suppose there’s a pretty good chance that it was passed down the maternal line for several generations before it made its way into my home. And no, it’s not THAT finger!

You might know what I’m talking about; it’s the finger that wags in the air while some truth, ultimatum or homily is being delivered. With one finger, along with some precious one liners, Mom controlled my behavior very effectively.

When I struggled against eating the crust on the edges of the bread, Mom very seriously told me, finger in action, “Oh, you have to eat the crust; it makes your hair curly.” I took two messages from this:

1.Bread crust has magical, medicinal qualities
2.Curly hair is good

I soon began seeking out the end pieces to eat, looking for more crust. And to this day I long for curly hair. (Ironically, my sister, with her lovely natural curls, has always straightened her hair. Wonder if Mom was somehow behind that development?)

When mom suspected that a fib was in play, she’d whip out the finger and ask, "Now is that a true lie or a false lie?” Stymied, I’d give up and confess. OK, I admit it, I was an easy mark. I suppose deep down I just wanted to tell the truth.

As I got a little bit older and started to rebel a little bit against the true lie/false lie double bind, she added, “Tell the truth and spite the devil!” Our home was by no means a place of hellfire and brimstone, but I was an imaginative tot, so this was another very effective ploy. I saw myself as striking a blow for truth, justice and the American Way simply by being truthful. Little children everywhere were the front line against evil.

Mom reinforced truth-telling by making it clear that I’d always be better off if she found out about bad behavior directly from me rather than finding out on her own. I learned to confess quickly and get it over with. And I still tell on myself today, though not necessarily to Mom. In the long run, this trait not only kept me out of trouble as a kid, but has become the foundation for a good marriage. The Fickle Finger of Fate dealt me a good hand.

I’m not sure just how it happened, but the Fickle Finger of Fate seems to have skipped a generation in our family. Neither of my siblings has it, and I don’t have it either, but Mom continues to employ it regularly, so there is still the possibility that he next generation will take up the tradition.

5 comments:

Joe Tornatore said...

i have been with too many women whose fickleness was more pervasive than a finger. good to see it only employed once in awhile and restricted to a finger.

Weary Hag said...

Such a cute post! Oh I too remember my mother flailing her index finger at us while delivering her 'sermons'. I think I actually caught myself doing the same to my daughter when she was a toddler.

Our family was HUGE on honesty too. This has helped me to be a far better person than those I know who can't seem to truth themselves out of a paper bag!

Great post, Merci!

PaxRomano said...

My mother, said a lot to me as a kid; usually she was brandishing a spatula, wooden spoon, cocktail glass or pencil (which to this day she uses to "dial" the phone) ...most of her pearls of wisdom are not fit for mixed company (I love my ma, but she has the temperament and language of a long shore man at times). However, she always said, "All good things to those who wait" - and damn if she was not right about that one!

Virginia Gal said...

My mother has this look, with her eyes, does the same thing to my sister and me.
oh and so true about the curly hair thing. I have curly/frizzy hair and I straighten it, that which we don't have, we want :-)

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