I've always been of the mind that the more rules you impose upon a person, the less inclined they are going to be to follow any of them. Whether due to resentment or straight up difficulty with recalling them all, too many rules leads to too much rule enforcing. And when it comes down to it, I just don't have the energy for all that. So, over the past nine years I've put in as a parent, I've refined the list of house rules to a simple trio that as far as I can tell cover everything that's important to me.
1. There is no crying about junk food or video games.
Here's where I invoke Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own: "Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! THERE'S NO CRYING ABOUT JUNK FOOD OR VIDEO GAMES!" For real, small folks of my house. These are a privilege, not a right. That said, if the answer to that lollipop you conjured out of thin air at 9 a.m. is no (spoiler alert, it's always no), don't feign surprise and whip up those Academy Award crocodile tears. The answer isn't changing and you're making me consider how I might go about melting every lollipop in a four mile radius just so I won't have to go through this again anytime soon.
And, son of mine, if Lego Batman is making you cry because you can't figure out how to use that godforsaken batarang to climb that wall, step away from the game. I repeat. STEP AWAY FROM THE GAME. It's supposed to be fun. Tears aren't fun. Ergo, time is up. Additionally, if I tell you it is not time for video games or that I will not let you spend your money on a game that's completely inappropriate, save the tears as well. Crying about screens, even when I know you're not all cracked out about them, still makes me wonder if I've failed. So just stop. Really.
2. I will take my coffee peacefully.
Most of the time I make it at home. No, I'm not making some for you. You want to help me make it? Fine. Take notes on my ratios. That could actually be useful information for Sunday mornings. How old do you have to be to drink coffee? I don't care how old you are, you just have to have a job.
Sometimes I buy coffee at various establishments. It does not automatically mean that I am buying everyone's choice of baked goods, fancy italian sodas or milk in that creepy aseptic packaging which may or may not be lined with mold. I will purchase my overpriced coffee in peace and accept no arguments that it is unfair to you, the poor neglected child with a belly full of fresh, mostly organic food who requires new shoes approximately every six weeks.
This is my only vice. I smoked for a nine-day period in high school until I once actually inhaled the whole cigarette and had to lay in a heap on the living room floor until it stopped spinning... so that's out. Wine is OK, but it puts me to sleep and I'm sort of pretending that it tastes good. I've had four massages in my whole life, I can't remember the last yoga class I attended and today a really good friend thought I was a fifth grader as I walked across the playground at pick up, if that tells you anything about the level of sophistication I'm bringing to my fashion game these days.
Leave my coffee alone.
3. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
It's not called the golden rule for nothing. It's basically your "buy one get the rest for free" statute. You don't like when your sister messes with your rock collection, so maybe stop playing her ukulele with your butt. You wouldn't like it if your father and I interjected questions about our tax returns into your endless chatter about Minecraft with your buddies, so how about you stop interrupting the first conversation we've managed to have all week? (PS: it's Wednesday.) You didn't enjoy that time that delinquent clubbed you over the head for the truck you were playing with at playgroup. So maybe don't pummel your brother when he changes the words to "Let it Go" to "Let it Poop" for the 65th time. Would you like to be invited to play soccer at recess if you were standing around alone looking bored? Maybe ask that kid today. How awesome would it be if your friend brought enough of your favorite snack with her to share at the playground this afternoon? Let's toss an extra pack of fruit snacks in our bag in case she likes them.
I'll never forget one of the first conversations I had with a friend when we officially met. She told me she had seen my family and I at the local bakery where she was working and overheard me tell me son to stop rubbing his grimy paws all over the glass cases. "Hey! Don't do that. Someone has to clean the fingerprints off of there, and if it were you, you wouldn't want sticky fingered kids smearing junk all over it a hundred times a day." Turns out, she was the person who had to clean the junk from sticky fingered kids off the glass a hundred times a day. She appreciated my support.
If my Tami Taylor/Clair Huxtable hybrid momspiration is on point, these two shouldn't turn out half bad.
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You can follow Sara on her blog, Oddly Well Adjusted.