Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rules of Engagement

Although I have never resorted to putting them in writing, my wife and I have certain expectations of behavior for our two boys. Some of them are oft-repeated phrases like “No burping at the dinner table (unless Mom lets one fly)” and “No yelling at your brother (unless the house is on fire)”. Other expectations, though, we seem to take for granted and assume them to be understood.

However, because these seemingly “understood” expectations are not engraved on a plaque and hung on the family room wall, our sons will sometimes veer off into taboo territory and act shocked when we bust them. “Do you mean to say that the hardwood floor ISN’T a good chipping surface for golf practice AND I shouldn’t be doing it in the house anyway? It’s like I don’t even know who you people are!” Those may not be their exact words, but that’s pretty much what the looks on their faces tell us.

In that vein, I have compiled a list of “rules” that should be etched in stone (or at least carved into a warm piece of burled walnut) and affixed to a prominent place in the home where the children are sure to see it on a regular basis. (In my house, I’m thinking of engraving the toilet seat because they never lift that thing up.) With that said, I give you the list:

  • No spitting on the floor or in your brother/sister’s mouth even if he/she dares you
  • Making holes in the wall without prior written consent by both parents is forbidden
  • You will wear underwear
  • Any change found under the couch cushions is the sole property of Mom or Dad
  • Gun play is to be confined to the den and the den only (this might be more regional in application)
  • The law of gravity will be strictly observed and heeded in and on this house
  • We have indoor plumbing; it will be used exclusively
  • The family pets are not to be spray painted or set on fire – EVER (younger siblings, unfortunately, aren’t usually covered by this proviso no matter how hard you try)
  • This is a nuclear-weapons-free zone

Looking back on my childhood, these were all rules that governed my home, and quite successfully I might add. We all made it to adulthood able to bring children into the world – so we could take our turn on imposing our rule on them. Following those rules, we made it through childhood with all ten fingers and ten toes intact and functioning (despite the fact I once let my older brother run my hand over with a Chevy utility van – oddly enough, Mom wasn’t altogether shocked).

Now, if you’re hoping to raise the next X Games gold medalist, career politician, performance artist, or Hollywood starlet, throw those rules right out or through the window. If that’s your plan, though, be warned that if they aren’t successful in reaching those goals and are unable to support you in your retirement, you could find yourself in a wheelchair without any underwear and being set on fire by your grandchildren. Good luck with that!

1 comment:

Charisse said...

People should read this.