The Proverbial Daughter

February 12th, 2013 posted by W. Bruce Cameron

My teenage daughter often asks for me to help her with her homework. In this case, “to help” means “to do,” as in, “Could you help me finish this report on the causes of the Great Depression?” (All she has written, at this point, are the words “Causes of the Great Depression” across the top of her paper, so it needs a lot of “finishing.”) Somehow I thought when I graduated I wouldn’t have any more homework to do, but apparently I was mistaken. Today she sits down next to me with a pad of paper and an eager expression. “Okay,” she announces. I frown. “‘Okay’ what?” “‘Okay’ I’m ready to work on my homework assignment. It’s due tomorrow.” “Oh.” “I’m supposed to think of some proverbs and write down what they mean.” She holds her pen over her paper. “So do you know any?” “I though you were supposed to think of one?” “Dad,” she rolls her eyes. “Okay. How about, ‘A watched pot never boils’?” “Good one!” she agrees. She writes it down, then glances up expectantly. “What does it mean?” “What do you think it means?” “Dad, I don’t have time for this, I told Heather I’d meet her at the mall.” “Just think. You’ve heard this one before. It’s symbolic, a metaphor.” She sighs. “Okay. Well, it means, if nobody is watching, you can do what you want and not get in trouble.” “What? That’s not what it means!” “So okay, that’s why I asked you.” “It’s about impatience. If you were heating water, it would seem like it would never start boiling if you stood and stared at it, but if you leave it alone, it will start boiling, soon enough.” “Well that’s just stupid,” she snaps. “Why would it boil slower if you were watching it?” “Let’s try another, because I’m pretty sure this exercise is revealing a troubling psychosis,” I encourage. “How about, ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’? And no, it isn’t about the group.” “The group?” she frowns. “What group?” “The Rolling Stones. It was a joke.” “There’s a group called The Rolling Stones? What a stupid name!” “A stupid…okay, okay, forget it. Just…can you think what this one means?” She shrugs. “If you keep moving, your dad can’t give you a list of chores.” “What?” “If you’re going to shout, I’m not going to do this with you,” she threatens. “That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face, wouldn’t it?” I counter cleverly. She touches her nose with a blank expression. “Alright,” I say after a moment. “Here’s another one. ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.'” She thinks for a moment, then brightens. “Oh! It means, ‘why are parents always telling their kids what to drink with dinner?'” “When do I do that?” I challenge. “‘Put away that soda, have some milk’. Or ‘drink water, you kids never have water’,” she mocks. “‘When I was growing up, we only had soda pop on special occasions.'” “Who are you supposed to be imitating? You sound like Elmer Fudd.” She just grins at me. “Okay, how about ‘A stitch in time saves nine’?” She cocks her head, “Well, if you get to the mall in time to meet Heather you can save nine percent off.” “‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire.'” “‘Watch out, Dad’s cooking again.'” “‘A fool and his money are soon parted.'” “‘Dad owes me allowance!'” “‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.'” “‘All Dad’s going to do this weekend is watch sports on T.V. again.'” “Do you really think that all of these were written about your father?” I demand irritably. “Of course not,” she sniffs. “They are symbolic. Metaphors.” “Here’s one. ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.'” “Oh!” She slides out of her chair. “‘Quit wasting your life talking to your dad and go meet Heather so you can save your nine percent!'” “Wait a minute,” I objected. “Don’t you need to hand this in tomorrow?” She looks over her shoulder. “‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!'” she calls gaily.

Copyright 2001 W. Bruce Cameron

W. Bruce Cameron (20 Posts)


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