Looking Back

Sayings and fashion from yesteryear

Most likely we can all come up with expressions that are clearly associated with our parents. It’s also likely that these expressions will be heard by future generations. After all, “they”say that we turn into our parents at some point in time.

When I was in elementary school I used to go to my Cousin Betty’s house quite often. I am sure we were under her mother’s feet while she was trying to get some housework done. When she had had enough of our antics we were often told, “Go outside and blow the stink off yourselves!” Of course, it was said in maternal jest, as we were probably the cleanest kids going!

If there was a little rain and we didn’t want to walk somewhere, we were told that “You aren’t made of sugar. You won’t melt.” Out came the rain gear and off we went!

Did you ever wonder how your parents knew just about everything you were up to, no matter how carefully you tried to hide it from them? If you asked how they found out, you may have gotten the answer, “A little birdie told me!” I took that quite literally when I was a little kid.

Of course, the sayings changed appropriately as we grew up. The mini skirts of the 60s frequently had parents saying, “Are you going out dressed like that?” Part of the reason could be that the fashion trends from that era were much more casual than the clothing our parents wore. I remember my mother trying to decide if she should buy a pantsuit. I had never seen her in anything other than a dress, even around the house. As time went by, pantsuits were a favorite part of her wardrobe.

I remember in high school I must have belonged to about every club that my high school offered. They always met at night and my mother seemed to be the one who picked up multiple kids between our house and school. She used to say, “Don’t anyone else’s parents know how to drive?” I am sure she had better things to do than wait for me to use the school pay phone and call her for a ride home. Of course, we dropped off the same kids as we made our way back.

Then there was the frequent plea for money to buy something I just had to have. That prompted the saying, “Do you think money grows on trees?” That is a timeless expression that I expect parents will use forever.

As I age, I can definitely relate to one of my mother’s common expressions, “Some day you’ll see.” It’s almost time for gardening season to begin and the 50-ft. garden my mother dug up and turned into lawn space is now my own flower garden. I remember asking her why she was getting rid of her garden. That was when she said, “It’s too much for me. Some day you’ll see.” When my husband and I moved into my family home I immediately recreated this garden because I missed it. What seemed like a slight incline in my 30s has now become more of a “hill” in my 70s. Guess my “some day”moment has come! But I am not ready to turn it into lawn space just yet.

When something upsetting made a good day take a bad turn, the words, “This too shall pass,” would sometimes be uttered. I still hear that phrase today from my cousin, Loyola, who has followed that logic for over 90 years.

I think we hear the words “Be careful” from the moment we take our first step. My mother gave me those instructions throughout her whole life. It was guaranteed that I would hear those two words when a car trip was going to take place. I think I was just a little more careful because of her kind reminder.

As we look back at the sayings that our parents used, we will probably agree that turning into our parents can be a good thing. Their guiding words got us this far in life. So there must be a lot of value to their “words of wisdom.”

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