of the things that parents soon find out about raising children is,
it isn’t as intuitive as one might think. In an age where
every device is designed to be readily apparent, children remain the
last great mystery.
I had kids, I did think about parenting. It isn’t that I
hadn’t given it any thought. It’s just that all my
thoughts were completely useless in a real world situation.
greatest example of this is the rules I shouldn’t have to make.Before you have kids, you know they’ll need rules. So
you try to come up with some. You think about bedtimes,
manners, homework, friends, even dating. Those are good things
to plan. But they are not the things that come up in the real
are great at the letter of the law and awful at the spirit.
Apparently, things that look pretty self-explanatory to adults
are a complete mystery to children. Very often, general
guidelines just won’t do.
knew I would have to teach my kids to be honest. I did not know
that I would need to make a rule about not selling art at
confiscatory prices to college students walking past our house. Or
rocks. Or apples. Apparently to a 6-year-old, “Be
honest,” does not readily translate into, “Don’t
become a highwayman on the front lawn by forcing guys to buy things
from you so they don’t look bad to the girls they are with.”
is also a certain level of boundary challenging with children. They
have nothing else to do with their day. They
can put in the time to wear you down.
“Only one kid in the tree at a time” becomes, “If
two of you must climb the tree at the same time, no one is allowed to
have a spear.” Give it a day or two and the rule is: “If
you and your sister climb into the tree and you drop a spear on her,
she is getting stitches before I will field your complaints about
blood on your shirt.”
are so many more.
is forbidden, but biting hard and shaking your head back and forth
will bring down the holy hammer of mom in a heartbeat.
do not put the baby in bags.
one child can use the same toilet at once.
you tell a younger child that you will play hide and seek with them,
you have to actually seek.
you are assigned a book report on, “Why Little
House on the Prairie
is a classic,” you must answer with more than, “Because
people didn’t have a lot of options.”
hose doesn’t come in the house. Take the hose out of the
house. For the love of all that is good and decent, turn off
do not stand on the sprinklers to see if they will keep turning with
our added weight.
do not say that the impressively large woman at the library is shaped
like a ball.
may not invite the people in front of us in line at the grocery store
to come stay with us. Or the people behind us. Or the
is fine that you know how mommy got a baby in her tummy but you may
not tell your Primary class. And announce it instead of giving
your talk during sharing time. And tell the bishop.
mom says to go outside and play she does not mean a game of “Will
it burn?” It will. If you do play “Will it
burn,” please tell mommy in a timely manner.
18 years of parenting, we have assembled a pretty impressive list. I
wish it were good for something. It would be nice if I could
pass it on to new mothers with a note that says, “Word to the
wise.” But it wouldn’t help at all.
the problem with rules you shouldn’t have to make is, you don’t
know you will have to make them. Having a list will only ensure
that your children require a completely different list of rules that
you shouldn’t have to make.
need to add, “You may not tie string to the chicken to see if
she can pull you on a roller skate,” to mine.
I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people
get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are
fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.
I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.