Boy House Rules

the Maker, self-portraits
One of the Maker’s self-portraits

In 2003 my house was insane. Our boys were 7, 5, and 3. Loud, dirty, and broken was the theme in our little suburban casa.

One day after some routine parenting repeating something for the eight thousandth time, I realized I was becoming a rulebot. I began to form this notion that I could program a machine to say — at frequent intervals — the same set of things and no one would ever know the difference. I hatched an evil plan.

Calling my dear sweet children wretched little urchins together I asked them to dictate the mombot program, thinking I could always upload it to a remote device later. The items below (edited for brevity and clarity) were what they told me were the “rules” in our house:

  1. Don’t bang on the table.
  2. Don’t burp out loud.
  3. Food goes on your plate.
  4. No gymnastics on the couch.
  5. Don’t hit the windows.
  6. Gum stays in your mouth.
  7. Food stays in the kitchen.
  8. Don’t blow bubbles in your juice.
  9. Don’t pour salt on the table.
  10. No snatching.
  11. Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking.
  12. Dirty clothes go in the hamper.
  13. Bring your plate to the counter when you are finished.
  14. Don’t demand things.
  15. Don’t stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open.
  16. Always say please and thank you.
  17. Don’t growl or snarl or stomp your feet if someone tells you to go in your room.
  18. Ask permission before going inside someone’s house.
  19. If someone gives you something nice, say thank you and don’t demand more.
  20. Don’t slam the door!
  21. Don’t climb on the drawers or cabinet doors.
  22. Eat foods that are good for you.
  23. Only saw on the wood Daddy gives you.
  24. Give the cats food and fresh water every day. And pet them.
  25. Draw only on the paper.
  26. Don’t mark up the table with knives or forks or scissors.
  27. Don’t put dirty feet on the walls.
  28. Get in the grass when a car comes.
  29. Friday is allowance day!
  30. We help around the house because we are family.
  31. Get tissue if you need to pick your nose.
  32. Don’t wipe your hands on your shirt.
  33. Don’t yell when someone is on the phone.
  34. Don’t wake up sleeping people.
  35. Take small bites.
  36. If you think you might throw up, go in the bathroom.
  37. Ask permission before petting a strange dog.
  38. If you are lost, look for a Mommy.
  39. No guns in the house.
  40. Come find Mom or Dad if you find a snake.
  41. Brush your teeth in the morning and before you go to bed.
  42. Cover your mouth when you sneeze.
  43. Give your Mom and Dad and brothers lots of hugs.

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3 Responses to Boy House Rules

  1. Robert March 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    I also grew up in a household of three boys, though my brothers were 6 and 7 years older than me, so the dynamic was a little different. I won’t bother trying to enumerate all the rules, but here are a few that stick out in my head.
    – “Sir”, “ma’am”, “please”, “may I” and “thank you”. Those were mandatory, not optional, whether talking to parents, family or total strangers. Started and enforced from such an early age, I don’t recall ever questioning it or rebelling against it.
    – Don’t interrupt when adults are having a conversation in person or on the phone. Wait patiently for a break. They know you’re there and waiting.
    – Don’t take more than you can eat.
    – Wipe your hands on your napkin, not your pants.

  2. Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 27, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    That thing about not interrupting adults who are talking in person or on the phone is a good one. These days the phone is never for me so I don’t actually even know where the phones are located in my house, or if we still have them.

  3. The First November 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Hahaha I wish rule number was in effect on weekends as well… 🙁

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