My father was the disciplinarian in our family. My mother was the softy. So it all equaled out for us. There are 20 years between the oldest and youngest children, and although my Dad changed quite a bit over those 20 years, no one dared cross him.
In the kitchen there were two little pieces of counter top (1 inch by 5 inches and 1 inch by 1 inch) that had been broken for probably 20 years, but no one dared touch them. When my Dad was "making a point" about your behavior or "grilling" you as to where you were going, he would push on those 2 little pieces of counter top with his fingers, as he paced back and forth. (You can check out the house here. The kitchen is now totally different, because the pipes burst in the upstairs bathroom a few years back, which caused MAJOR water damage to the kitchen down below. The whole thing had to be gutted and redone. Thank God for home owners insurance.)
For my parents 50th wedding anniversary my sister, Mary Kay, framed those two pieces of counter top with the following poem that she wrote (there are a lot of family, inside jokes in this, but I hope you like it anyway...), entitled....
I'm a piece of broken countertop from a time that's long gone by.
I used to be in the Schlaefer home...In the kitchen I used to lie.
The kitchen - my vantage point, was like a three ring circus.
Laughter, good food, and many a tall tale, but gaiety was not my purpose.
My surface is worn and smooth from many years of use.
And the hands which I remember most kept me from falling loose.
Those hands belonged to a man called DAD, and those hands were firm and strong.
His fingers would press and steadily push, while his words would follow along.
And now I sit, preserved for all time, under glass...although I'm not fussy.
I never thought I'd last this long in the hands of the one DAD called "hussy".
It's amazing to me that in all those years, I never got lost or misplaced.
In a house with eight children...well let me just say, it was often quite the ratrace.
When this man called DAD had something to say, his face with a look quite grave...he'd press on me, while pointing at them, and tell them they'd better behave.
The girls would listen with rapt attention, always careful not to groan.
But the boys - their hearing "hormone impaired", felt the finger made of stone.
From Kurt, to Kent, to Karen on down...To Mary Kay, Genie, and Mark...To John, and Tracey...HEY...that's about it. That crowd was fit for an ark!
It must not have been easy, it appears to me, to provide for such a clan.
The demands were great, the days were long, and the rules had to be part of the plan.
These rules ...they were simple, and quite straightforward -
all too many to mention here.
But there are a few which I do recall, and they're the ones I hold most dear.
Stay out of trouble, don't be fresh, and try not to kill each other.
Eat your meals, be back before dark, and try to help your mother.
Get good grades, don't start fights, and always do your best.
Do what's right, don't be late, and maybe you'll pass life's test.
At this man's side was a great woman, and of that I'm sure he was glad.
Her name was MOM, and she had her hands full, it's a wonder she didn't go mad.
Well, all I can say is they both stuck it out, and weathered the storm of eight kids.
And from all that I've heard from the talk that goes on,
they're all really glad that you did.
In closing, I think I can speak for these children.
I knew them all quite well.
The love and respect for their MOM and DAD is more than mere words can tell.