A little while ago, I arrived home from a meeting at school to find my neighbor’s 14-year-old daughter sitting on my front porch, sobbing.I had hired her to babysit my adorable offspring, and they had locked her out of the house. After I finished screaming at them, I asked why they would do such a thing. Their defense: “Mom, you never told us we shouldn’t lock her out. ” Observing this mentality, of course, makes it easier to understand the handbook on chastity that was given to me as a youth, which included rules like “When giving a boy a backrub, do not take off his shirt,” and “do not lie on top of each other, even with clothes on,” and, my personal favorite, “do not get into a horizontal position with a member of the opposite sex–on a bed, a couch, or in a bathtub.”
Anyway, I’m hoping to compile here a manifesto of things I would have thought it obvious one shouldn’t do, to distribute to my children so that they never have the “you didn’t tell us not to do that” defense again. (As is, alas, always the case, most of these are things that they have, in fact, tried before!)
1. No locking babysitters out of the house, ever. No locking parents out, either.
2. Climbing onto the roof is strictly forbidden, especially if you are under 5. Ditto the top of the refrigerator, the roof of the school, trees over 50 feet tall or less than 4 inches in diameter, and telephone poles.
3. Do not tie a hammer on a rope and fling it over a tree branch 30 feet in the air. In fact, no hammer-flinging, ever.
4. When dealing with monsters under the bed, please consult a parent before attempting to saw the legs off of your bed to destroy monster habitat.
5. Maple syrup, vegetable oil, honey, peanut butter, and rice (cooked or uncooked) are Schedule A Controlled Substances, under no circumstances to be handled by children.
6. It is not permissible to consume an entire box of cold cereal in one sitting, even if your imaginary friends Homp and Joey eat half of it.
7. Do not use your sister’s hair to wipe your sticky hands.
8. Do not use your own hair, either, or your mother’s dry-clean only silk skirt as she is walking out the door late to a meeting.
9. 10-lb. bags of flour are under no circumstances to be used to create artificial snowstorms.
10. No listening to Primary songs before breakfast.
11. No gum, ever, anywhere.
12. Power tool use must be supervised.
13. Goldfish may not be harnessed to pull bath toys. Likewise hamsters and toy cars.
14. Toilet paper is just for that one thing. Really. That’s it.
15. If your bicycle chain breaks, you may not disassemble all of the bicycles of all of the other members of the family in an attempt to find one that fits yours.
16. No nailing anything to the walls, ceiling, or doors of the house–especially not theses of any kind.
17. If you are under 18, back away from the Sharpie!!
So, wise readers, what can you add to my list??