Friday, May 9, 2008

Mother’s Tales and Tactics – The Case of the Mortified Mummy

I think, of the three, this title is the most Nancy Drew-esque, hoorah!

My mother’s media censorship was both endearing, and clever. I also admire the tales my mother told to prevent me from doing anything that would endanger me physically (and not just my soul!).

Three things my mother did NOT want me to do:

  1. Climb in through a window if I was locked out.
  2. Eat lots of salt.
  3. Drink from a straw while she or Dad was driving.

So she employed scare tactics. Here are the tales she told:

  1. Firstly, it is important to visualise the type of window in question.

These were those old aluminium-framed windows with the little levers you twist to close the window. Sometimes in the mad rush of the morning, Mom would say, “All windows and doors closed?” and we would run around pushing them closed from the outside, but we didn’t twist levers. So effectively, you could just open the window by prying your fingers in there and pulling.

This is exactly what we did if we forgot our key to get in, or forgot to return it to its hiding place after using it last time we went and got it.

One day, Mom came home and asked how we got in. We pointed at the window.

Then she told us never to do it again. She described how once a mother came home to a house with a window just like ours, and found her child in two pieces – one inside the window, and one outside; dead. We just stood there. She then went on to explain that a pane of glass is like a guillotine, and if we lost our balance while climbing in, we’d slice ourselves up the middle (in case we hadn’t got the point).

I imagined that horrific sight, and pitied a mother that found her chopped child. Can you imagine that mother’s mortified expression?

  1. Mother: “A boy once ate all the pretzels in a bag by himself. Then he ate all the salt in the bottom of the bag,” (my finger froze, mid-air, covered in salt I had licked-and-dipped to retrieve), “They had to rush the boy to hospital. He died.”
  1. Mother: “If your father brakes very quickly right now, that straw is going to go up through the top of your mouth and into your brain.”
Do I live in fear to this day?

Let’s just say I sip very quickly when drinking from a straw in a moving vehicle…with the straw on an angle so it’s in my cheek...nowhere near my palate.

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