My daughter Teresa (21) graduated from college in May of this year. Prior to her graduation, she sent out resumes and lined up several interviews. As the interviews progressed, a handful of companies became interested in her, which created a dilemma: What if she had a certain company in mind that she really wanted to work for and another company made an offer? Should she delay accepting the offer while she waited to see if the company she wanted to work for would make an offer?
When Teresa explained her dilemma to me, I asked her if she ever heard the saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? With a confused look on her face, she replied, “What did you say?” I repeated my question, “Have you ever heard the saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” She looked at me as if I was from Mars, speaking an alien language to her.
After a short discussion, I discovered that she had never heard the saying and had no idea what it meant. I explained to her that the saying means that it’s better to hold on to an outcome that you have already obtained, then to give up the outcome for one or more other outcomes that may or may not occur in the future.
She still didn’t understand what I was talking about, so I told her to follow me. I walked through the house and into the kitchen where Georgette and two of my other daughters — Mary (25) and Christine (23) — were visiting. I asked Mary and Christine if they had ever heard the saying, and they gave me the same look that Teresa had given me. Georgette immediately recognized the saying and knew its meaning, but Mary and Christine didn’t know what I was talking about.
Over the next few weeks, every time Teresa and I discussed how her interviews were going, I told her that if she received a reasonable offer from a good company, she needed to treat the offer as though it was a bird in the hand and accept it, rather than wait around for another offer from a company that she preferred to work for.
She eventually accepted a good offer from a reputable, well-known, Peoria-area company. Within a few weeks of accepting the offer, she received another offer from a company that she had interviewed with before accepting the original offer. After discussing the new offer, both of us agreed that she had made the right decision by accepting the bird in the hand offer.
A couple of weeks after I introduced the bird in the hand saying to Teresa, she saw one of her cousins — I’ll call her Amanda — at a family reunion. She asked Amanda if she had ever heard of the saying and Amanda said no. Amanda then told Teresa that her dad (my younger brother) had done the same thing to her — introduced sayings that she had never heard of, but were offered to her to convey a certain message.
Teresa and Amanda then came over to where I was sitting and Teresa announced, “Dad, I’m not the only one whose daughter doesn’t know what her dad is talking about.” She then explained that my brother also uses unknown sayings on his children to try to get his point across.
I looked at Amanda and said, “What’s one of the sayings your dad has used on you.” She smiled and said, “He recently used one on my sister, but I can’t remember what it was.” I teased her about how she should do a better job of listening to what her dad says, and she said, “I can’t remember the saying, but it had something to do with a horse.”
I looked at her and said, “Where’s your dad sitting?” She pointed to a table that was across the room, and we walked over to the table. After I explained to my brother what was going on, he smiled and told me what his daughter had done and that he had told her, “You should never put the cart before the horse.”
I immediately knew what he was talking about. It was a phrase that we had heard from our parents and our aunts and uncles while we were growing up. Teresa had never heard the saying. My brother and I started reciting and talking about other sayings that we grew up with. If you’re over the age of 40, you would probably recognize most of the sayings that we discussed. Here are some of the sayings:
Most people from my generation (or older) would recognize all of these sayings, while millennials — those born between 1980 and 1996 — wouldn’t have a clue as to their meaning. Why? I’ll discuss that next week.