Friday, May 24, 2013


Having kids means having a lot of rules.

  • Don't jump on the bed
  • Don't hit your sister
  • Stay in bed
  • Eat your peas
  • No feet on the table
...And so forth. You know, your basic run of the mill stuff. 

As my girls are getting older the rules are getting more and more complex and more negotiable. Rules like Don't jump on the bed have had to evolve into more specific and detailed rules like don't jump on anything that is not a trampoline. My youngest is a very literal rule challenger. If it doesn't say don't jump on the ____, then clearly either it doesn't mean that, OR she thinks she can find a way to spin it so she gets in less trouble. No. Not Really. She still gets in trouble. But it does result in lots of rule clarification.

Rules have to exist so that we can get along. Rules keep us safe. They guide our behavior. They document our contracts.

There have been some recent new developments in our house around rules.

One is the involvement of the children in the suggestion of new rules. Here is an example.

We have a pretty small house. Small enough that we have virtually no front entry way, and no back entry at all. The back door from the garage comes straight into the kitchen and bumps into the door to the basement in such a way that only one can be open at a time. And since this is the primary door we go in and out of, this is where the shoes want to collect. And there is no where to put them as even when the door to the garage is shut, we need to get into the basement. The shoes were becoming a problem so it was suggested that maybe each person should only have 2 pairs of shoes there.

This is a good rule in concept. But I knew when it was suggested that there was one serious problem with it.

There's no way Mommy can follow this rule.

So the rule was updated a little. Well, that's a good rule but Mommy needs 4 pairs. I'll never be able to stick to two.

Another new development is that they love to enforce the rules on someone other then themselves.

Especially on mom and dad. 

So the other night as I am trying to work for my day job.(You know the one that pays the mortgage), my daughter felt it was critical that I deal with the fact that I had 9 pairs of shoes at the back door. Because it is also my job to clean up my shoes and I was very clearly in violation of the 4 pair rule. 3 pairs of tennis shoes (1 is worn out, 1 is water proof, they are NOT the same) and 6 pairs of sandals (1 sporty, 1 black dressy, 1 brown dressy for pants, 1 brown dressy for shorts, 1 flip flop, 1 hot pink). They lined them all up in a row for me to clear the basement door and they stretched more than half way across the kitchen.

Mom! You need to do something about your shoes right now!

Well, no, what I need to do right now is finish this thing for my day job that I have been working on since 6:30 this morning. The shoes are not your problem. The shoes will still be there tomorrow. I will get around to the shoes. I am the mother for goodness sake. Don't they know the rules shouldn't have to apply to me? Or at least not when I am working on something else that is more important?

Once, I forgot to wear a bike helmet. An honest mistake. It was the longest bike ride ever.I know you can imagine it. Constant conversation about it. Why did I forget it? I was not being safe and that was not ok. Could she take hers off since mine was off? And on and on and on.

So lately I am not sure if the rules are actually making my life easier or harder. Because the fact is,

It's hard to follow the rules. 

I swear I am constantly messing them up. And my children don't miss a beat. They are right there, ready willing and able to correct all of my mistakes. And I better be too. Right. Now. Everything else be damned. I'm pretty sure they are better at enforcing the rules then I am. So are they really learning anything? Or are they getting away with breaking the rules and I don't even know it cause I am still too busy cleaning up my shoes?

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