A Word to the Wise

QueenSnowWhiteOccasionally I am beset with fears that I will die suddenly.  Apart from the obvious fear of not being around to supervise the day-to-day functioning of my family, the inconvenience my sudden demise would cause them, and the nagging worry that some lithe, blonde creature would step up and take my place, there are lots of less obvious things about dying suddenly that worry me as well.  I worry that my children will continue to chew with their mouths open.  (Obviously this takes a very long time to teach as I have been repeating myself for years now to no avail).  What if I die before they learn how to tell a joke properly?  What if my lessons in irony vs. sarcasm are cut short?  What if there is no one around to reinforce the fact that it is pronounced zee-bra and not zeb-ra?  Though I have no doubt that their father could easily pick up the slack on the table manner and sarcasm front, if not the lithe blonde, it’s those random acts of kindness and snippets of motherly advice that my kids would miss out on.  Lucky for them I am a list maker at home with the electrician with nothing better to do.  A word to the wise.

Always send the card

Whether it’s a thank you card, a birthday card for someone you haven’t spoken to in years or most importantly, a sympathy card to your grade school friend who’s Great Aunt Mary just passed away, send it.  You remember, the one who used to have ribbon candy in a glass bowl on her hutch and always smelled vaguely of mothballs?  Send the card.

Always take advantage of unexpected sunshine

This is true anywhere, but even more so in Denmark.  Probably Canada too.

Go the extra mile

Send the sympathy card, but better yet, go to the wake.  Out of all the people who came to pay their respects when my father died, it was my high school boyfriend showing up that touched me the most.  He didn’t have to do that.  But he did.

Jewellery is always a good bet.  Small appliances…not so much.

My husband bought me a hair dryer for Christmas once because he thought the one I had at home was too loud.  Not his best effort.  Last year I bought him an electric shaver.  Not mine.

Putting on an upbeat song really loudly may piss off your neighbors, but it will make you feel better, even if you’re vacuuming.

Smile at someone.  Smile harder if they don’t smile back.

Never underestimate the importance of knowing the difference between your and you’re; there, their and they’re.

Sit next to someone who is sitting alone in the cafeteria.  Talk to the new kid, the new intern, the new mom at school.

Make sure to say thank you to the person who holds the door open for you.  

And then hold it open for someone else.

Let someone with fewer items than you go first in the supermarket check out line

No one does this in Denmark.  Or, I should say, only Americans do this in Denmark.  When I do, the Danes look at me like I have two heads.  Then like they’ve won the lottery.  Danes don’t like supermarket checkout lines.

Photo: edinphoto.org.uk
Photo: edinphoto.org.uk

Call your grandmother more often.  

Take the time to spell out the word.  Abbreviations that only leave out one letter are pointless.  

Listen to the elderly person on the bus.  They have wonderful stories.

A handwritten expression of feeling is better than a gift you don’t mean.

Don’t say you’re going to call if you’re not.  Don’t say maybe if the answer is no.  

Total, brutal honesty isn’t always the best policy, but in times like these, it usually is.

Call your mother more.  She put a lot of work into you.

Don’t assume it’s about you.  It’s usually not.

Naked pictures are NEVER a good idea.

Photo: flickr.com
Photo: flickr.com

Sometimes the weeds are prettier than the flowers.

Find what you love, and love it, whether it’s a weed or a rose.  Don’t let anyone tell you that roses are the only flower worth cultivating.

Take joy in the small things.  Like a perfect piece of toast

One of the things that makes me love my husband even more is his childlike glee when it comes to toast.  Sometimes it is the small things.

Hopefully my recent foray into exercise and my (planned) wine moderation will help delay sudden death a bit, at least long enough to impart some random life lessons to my children.  Maybe even to see them eat without wiping their mouths on their shirt sleeve.

Wouldn’t that be something.

**For the record, I don’t think my husband would really marry a lithe blonde.  He prefers brunettes.  But if he does, he may want to take my 5 year old’s advice for helping a step parent get to know their step kids better, which is to wear name tags around the house.  No, I don’t know where he came from either.  I really don’t.

29 thoughts on “A Word to the Wise

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    1. He’s a barrel of laughs and good advice that one. Which makes up for the times he is a colossal pain in the ass. Right now, he’s just about even. If he tips the scales one way or the other, we’ll have to see what we do with him.


  1. It’s alarming how many of those things I’ve learnt from experience. If only I had had a mom like you! By the way, the sunshine enjoyment was one of the first things I noticed when visiting Copenhagen.


    1. The problem with being a mom is that your kids never listen to you and think you’re an idiot. Even if you do have good advice. Funny you should mention the sunshine in CPH thing, because that was the original impetus for the post. We’ve had a glorious summer and fall and you can really see how much the Danes appreciate the sun when it is out.


      1. I was actually there this summer, and I figured that CPH was the picnic capital of the entire world. Eventually your kids will realize how wise you are, but probably not until they have kids, or an evil blonde stepmom.


  2. I met the sweetest old lady on the bus here in Copenhagen, and after telling her why I was here, she told me how she followed her husband to Mexico for his job and lived there for 20 years, caring for their family, but how she wished she had worked in some of her other dreams by furthering her education and nurtured more of her interests during that time. It was a lesson of wisdom she wanted to share with me and I loved it.


    1. Strangely, I think a little old lady on a bus in Copenhagen was part of this story too. I helped her off and across the street and in that small space of time she told me all about how she was a nurse in the US for a long time. It was utterly charming.


  3. This is a great list, truly. And I really needed it today. I especially needed to read: “Smile at someone. Smile harder if they don’t smile back.”
    Until reading that piece of advice I wasn’t exactly sure what to do in the face of the other parent at my son’s school who ignored me (yet again) when I smiled and said hello loudly to them this afternoon?!
    Thank you, everyone should have a mother as wise as you.


    1. I can only hope my kids think so (some day). The corollary to the ‘smile harder if they don’t smile back’ is to sing nasty things to cutesy songs in your head while you’re looking at them–that works wonders too. Think “the wheels on the bus run over your head, over your head, over your head, the wheels on the bus run over your head, all over town!” One of those will hopefully work.

      Liked by 1 person

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