My sister and I used to joke that we already knew the answer to any question we asked our parents before we even asked it. Depending on the question, it was either, “No,” “Put ice on it,” or “Get a job.”
“I hurt my knee, what do I do?” “Put ice on it.”
“Can’t I have a less embarrassing car?” “Get a job.”
“Can I stay home from school today?” “No.”
At the time, we were vaguely frustrated by it, but my parents were endlessly amused. They would just laugh at us as we protested the unfairness of it all. And maybe a little bit at themselves, since ice was my dad’s version of the dad’s reliance on Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Now that I’m a parent, I appreciate this arsenal of answers more than I ever did as a kid.
Now, obviously my sister and I exaggerated my parent’s harshness, as kids do. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but my parents gave me opportunities that they felt were important. The rote answers that my sister and I joked about were lessons that stick with me even now, and I recognized even then the love that was behind them.
“No.” You don’t get everything you want, whenever you want it. Instant gratification is bad for everyone.
“Put ice on it.” Don’t make a big deal out of physical injuries – scraped knees and bruises build character. We believe you are strong enough to overcome this.
“Get a job.” Seriously. Get a job. Make your own way. No one owes you anything.
I like to think sometimes about how my kids will remember me. Thinking about the long-term helps remind me how I want to parent my kids and course-correct if I’m not going in the direction I want to.