Thursday, May 30, 2013

House Rules

Some friends and I were talking recently about having simple "house rules" for kids to follow. Their children are much younger than mine, and the rules consist of lists of what to do at bedtime, how much TV and computer time you can have each day of summer break, etc. These lists are great ideas to help keep things simple and clear for kids, and to help avoid having to repeat yourself until your voice gives out ("did you brush your teeth?" "then brush your teeth." "did you put your clothes in the hamper?" "well, do it now." and so on).

But in this house, we have come to the point where we need other rules. Different rules. Rules that make mom break out in hives as she writes them down.

We have, ladies and gentlemen, House Rules for Growing Boys. Ahem:

1.            If you are dating someone, we need her name and home phone number. Yes, we will talk to her parents.
2.            Members of the opposite sex are not allowed upstairs.

3.            Members of the opposite sex may not come to the house when no adult is home.
4.            Rules 2 and 3 apply at your girlfriend’s house, even if her parents don’t say so.

5.            If you are dating someone and your grades drop, you will have to stop dating her.
6.            Dating someone will never be an excuse to stop participating in extra-curricular activities, or to avoid signing up for them.

7.            Use your cell phone to talk to or text with friends/girlfriends. Please don’t tie up the house phone for long.
8.            Cell phones will be downstairs on the dining room table by 9pm on school nights, 10pm on   weekends.

9.            We will read all your texts. We have an app for that.
10.          You’re not allowed on social networking sites. Sorry.
I wrote the first draft, and Husband edited. I handed the boys each a copy today when they got home, and posted a third copy on the fridge.

You see, One asked me the other day if he could date someone (or was that a capital offense at his age? He apparently needed to know.). And Two - as much as I hate to admit it - is getting a cell phone at the end of next week when school lets out. It scares me a bit, but they are growing older. I'd rather tackle these difficult things up front than make it up as we go along. I'm not that way about everything; bedtime, for instance, has never been more than a lofty goal. And many other decisions have been made in the past (and will be made in the future) based on what feels right given all the circumstances. But these kinds of rules - especially the dating-related ones - I want to get right from the outset. I want expectations to be completely clear. First of all, it's an emotional topic (in a teen's mind in particular), and one that does not lend itself to "what feels right for Mom at this particular moment". It's also a subject on which I don't expect a lot of communication from the boys. They may not want me in this part of their lives, for the most part. And really, except for setting out the expectations their father and I have for their behavior, I don't think we belong there unless expressly invited. Because of that, I want to make our expectations as straightforward as possible.

So here we go. I'm sure the list will grow and change as the boys do. Wish me luck! I need it.

And a drink. I need a glass of wine right now -- badly.

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