Ten Things Our Parents Did to Not Screw Us Up

This week, Mr. Jenn and I are submitting a co-Listicle for Stasha, at Northwest Mommy and Lisa, at The Sprog. Even though both of us consider ourselves a teeny bit left of plumb, our mothers and fathers reared us both to be good parents, law-abiding citizens, and all-around decent humans.

  1. We both work like two fleas on a dog’s ass. Our parents instilled within us both a rock-solid work ethic. My dad built ships for 44 years, my mother still works part-time, and Mr. Jenn’s mother retired from dispatching police officers at 70 years old. Until emphysema made it impossible, Mr. Jenn’s father worked in his family’s logging business and farmed. We both learned that money is freedom—you can do whatever you want as long as you can finance it yourself. I got my first job at 11, and Mr. Jenn was probably about nine. We’ve been paying for at least a portion of our respective mischief and maelstroms ever since.
  2. We play hard because we’ve worked our asses off. Our parents took few, if any, real vacations until they got older. We need things to look forward to when work overwhelms the crap out of us.
  3. One half of us cooks, and the other half bakes. Mr. Jenn learned to cook and make home-made ice cream from his Mama. He had to feed the rest of his siblings when his mother worked nights at the Sheriff’s office. He can make enough potato soup and Brunswick stew to feed a football team and his repertoire of fried food will incite drooling from three counties over. He can make a road-killed ‘possum taste yummy.   I bake because my mom worked with a grocery budget so tight it squeaked. I learned early-on that a homemade sugar cookie tastes much better than a store-bought generic one.  I also learned that if I wanted a stick of good butter, I’d better find a coupon or I’d get stuck trying to bake with the 25 cent plastic shit. That mess makes cookies flatter than Mr. Jenn’s boo-tocks after our ice cream-maker broke. Believe me, that was flat.
  4. We can both blame our asses on our parents. Thanks to Mr. Jenn’s daddy, neither Mr. Jenn, nor Lil’ P., can keep their drawers up to save themselves. When Mr. Jenn’s pants hang below his tractor shirt, it just doesn’t look hip-hoppy cool at all. Luckily, I have enough ass to compensate for all of us. That’s my mama’s fault. The thing is, she’s always been skinny, and her butt looked adorable and shapely. Mama can belly up to a buffet, pack away more than a road crew, and not even look slightly bloated. I, on the other hand, inherited her butt and Daddy’s metabolism. We can merely look at an Oreo and acquire hiney dimples. Unfortunately, that never stops us.
  5. We are grateful for our health. Both our parents have struggled with scary illnesses, and so has Mr. Jenn. To be honest, if chemo or some other scary pharmaceutical is not dripping into a hapless vein, we feel like we’re in pretty good shape.
  6.  We also blame our obsession with a wide variety of music on our parents. When you’ve cut your teeth on Roy Clark, Buck Owens, Kenny Rogers, and the Oak Ridge Boys, the inception of iTunes was like someone springing us from Hee-Haw jail.
  7. Speaking of Hee-Haw, our parents also exposed us to the oilier, slightly hairier elder cousins of today’s music television in the form of The Lawrence Welk Show, The Porter Wagoner Show, and Sha Na Na. Since both of us have“Where, Oh Where, Are You Tonight?” permanently glued to our eardrums, we avoid music television. That is, unless My Big Redneck Vacation is on. Refer to Number 2 above.
  8. Our parents inadvertently made us both lovers of nature. Mr. Jenn’s parents turned him loose on their 400 acre farm when he was about four years old. He’d leave after breakfast and return for dinner.  He fished in the water moccasin-infested river near his house and played on the train tracks. If you are wondering if something’s amiss with this picture, please keep in mind that Mr. Jenn grew up in a town smaller than the average map dot where old men still played checkers outside the country store. “Co-Cola” still came in bottles, and traffic jams consisted of two old station wagons piled up behind a tricycle John Deere fresh out of a peanut field. I, on the other hand, had parents with the opposite mentality—they kept me on such a short leash that I could barely climb a nearby tree without hanging myself. The only thing that didn’t terrify them was the water, so they bought me a 12 foot jon boat and two oars for my 11th birthday. After a couple of lessons with Daddy, they turned me loose. By the end of the summer, I rowed about a mile upriver. Alone. I had shoulders wider than a brick shithouse. The next year, they bought me a motor. Daddy taught me about channel markers, navigation, and the oil/gas ratio mixture, then set me free. By the end of that summer, I’d made it out of our river, across a bay, and way up into the river into the next county. Daddy decided he needed to set a few parameters or he’d find his twelve-year-old daughter somewhere in the vicinity of Bermuda.
  9. The freedoms our parents bestowed on us as children forced our independence and made us able to fix things. Mr. Jenn found some old cars and trucks in the woods on the family farm when he was about ten and began taking them apart. He pulled the starter off one, and put it into a broken down station wagon he located. Pretty soon, he was driving that old car all over the farm. I, too, had to learn to patch things up a bit. I watched Daddy make adjustments to my outboard motor whenever it sputtered.  I never left the boat landing armed without a can of WD40, and I never had to flag someone down for a tow back to land, either.
  10.  Thanks to our parents, we both find clothing rather restrictive. My Daddy insisted on all of us wearing clothes at all times in the house. Naturally, I grew up and rebelled. Mr. Jenn grew up in a strict Baptist house with a semi-nudist grandmother who bathed in the kitchen sink. No wonder he ran around the barn buck nekkid as a little kid. He still does it today!

36 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 04:21:40

    Great list. It cracks me up that you were kept on a short leash…except around water. What could go wrong on the water? Ellen


  2. Smaktakula
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 05:45:48

    Sha-na-na was awesome. Did you know they were at Woodstock? I still can’t get my head around that.
    Good for your & Mr. J’s folks. It’s nice to see somebody not whining about their parents.


  3. joannerambling
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 06:34:53

    Wow you both had awesome childhoods, and it is great that your parents instilled in you some great work ethic unlike many children now days who have no idea what going to work is all about………….I think it is wonderful that you both can see all the good your parents did, some people just see all the mistakes their parents made………


  4. Roly
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 08:55:54

    Despite our best efforts at spoiling their fun, most parents do try


  5. explodyfull
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 09:07:45

    Great list! I think one of the best food-related things my parents did was instil the urge for vegetables. If I don’t eat something green for 2 days I start getting major urges and then I will go eat a head of broccoli or a bunch of green beans.


  6. doncarroll
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 10:06:06

    nice read here jenn. you just told me that you suffered through hee haw as well. i really liked that first one involving work ethic – like two fleas on the dog’s ass brought a laugh out of me.


  7. craftcrazygran
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 10:07:57

    wise, which they also seemed to have passed on


  8. hughcurtlerler
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 12:00:03

    Thanks for sharing. Delightful and most interesting!


  9. Stacie @ Snaps and Bits
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 12:49:27

    Loved this list! Work hard play hard is a great philosophy!


  10. foxydork
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 17:02:59

    My parents did the same, I was taught to work hard, and to do the job right the first time. By the time I was nine, I could skin a rabbit, hammer nails, haul hay, do basic first aid, etc. etc. My daddy wanted me to be self reliant, and made sure I knew how to do it right. My parents are awesome and I’m blessed to have them. It’s nice to see someone else appreciate theirs!


  11. Wayne
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 17:16:47

    I loved the work ethic point. It makes such a difference.


  12. duckyh
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 19:27:46

    Fantastic list! I\’m loving #2 and trying to incorporate that more often. Sometimes I get so caught up in the working hard and making all the right decisions at the right time that I forget to just LIVE. I can happily report that I am doing much better in this effort. Life is good…and I want my daughter to know and see that as well


  13. Stasha
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 20:06:42

    You to sure are fun! If I lived on a huge farm I would totally set my kid loose, even in this day and age. My husband would in return have a cardiac arrest.
    Love this list Jenn.


  14. Jill
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 23:16:09

    I agree with Stasha! You sound fun! Road kill possum and #10. Very funny list


  15. Delilah
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 01:43:00

    Great list! #6 and #7 had me laughing out loud. Hee Haw jail. Haha! And we love My Big Redneck Vacation. My mom is British and my dad is a good ole Southern boy. You can imagine how much fun I’m having with this season’s show. Hahaha!


  16. Jamie@southmainmuse
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 02:00:23

    Love this and point number 2 reminds of the song “Work Hard, Play Hard.” There is no substitute for hard work. That is a great lesson to pass on.


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