Monday, April 23, 2012

House Rules

While our wonderful Kate Collins finishes the last part of writing her manuscript--rewrites, copy edits and even more edits--we are fortunate to have Julie Hyzy, who writes two cozy series, join us for a few weeks. Many of you are probably familiar with her White House Chef series as well as her Manor House Mysteries. We welcome Julie while we await Kate's return. (We do miss our Kate!) 

Every family has its own rules -- some more obscure than others. House rules can be as common as "No jumping on the furniture" or "Take off your shoes at the front door." But I'm willing to bet that there are some interesting variations on house rules out there, and to get the discussion started, I'm going to share one of ours.

From the time the kids were very little, they learned that there is one phrase that is absolutely not allowed in our family. I'm not really sure how this got started, but I believe our eldest uttered it once and we nipped it in the bud right then and there. "No way," her father and I warned her. "You never say that again. Got it?"

She did. And so did her sisters.

So... what is this horribly offensive phrase?

"I don't care."

Yep. That's it. Whether we're asking what flavor of ice cream they'd like, or what television show to tune into, or whether they'd prefer broccoli or cauliflower with dinner that evening, the girls were never allowed to say "I don't care." They were required to express a preference. Make a choice.

Over the years, the phrase became abbreviated to "IDC" and my husband and I got a chuckle whenever the kids invited new friends over for the first time. Being good hosts (another point we drove home), they'd offer their guests some refreshment. "Would you like pop? Water? Anything else?" Almost invariably, their guests would answer "I don't care."

At that my girls would swoop in and warn them to never use that "IDC"phrase. "You have to pick," they'd say. "We aren't allowed to say 'I don't care' in this house."

We all knew that the guests were just trying to be polite -- they were probably reluctant to express a preference because that might cause more work, or appear demanding. Eventually, however, all our kids' friends got the message and, to this day, we never hear IDC in this house anymore.

We were very happy to have started this rule when the girls were young. The girls learned to express themselves and because they'd never developed the IDC habit, my husband and I were spared a lot of that teenage sullenness you hear so much about.

Of course we have other house rules (plenty of others)  that help keep the family happy and the days running smooth.

What are some of yours?


Aurian said...

Lol, that sure is an example how difficult guests can be:
Q: what do you like to drink?
A: What do you have?
Q: cola, cerise, water, icetea?
A: I have no preference, anything that is opened is fine.
Q: We don't have that, what do you like
A. and then finally the guest tells what is most wanted.

I don't care is not really translated here in Dutch, more like, everything is allright, surprise me. (and then you ofcourse always make the wrong decision, which is their own fault).

Rules in my house, difficult to think of. I think the sensible things, no jumping on the furniture, don't throw stuf on the floor but in the wastebasket and such.

grammajudyb said...

Oh how I wish someone had taught that house rule to most of our adult friends and extended family. I agree, for "pete's sake" make a decision!!! I has been a long time since my children were at home, I can't remember a particular rule.

But even now, living with my husband of nearly 48 is "put the toilet seat and lid down". And you may not use Mom's good sewing scissors!. My daughter-in-law recently thanked me for instilling this one on my son. :)

Leann Sweeney said...

We had a cardinal house rule:

You have two choices for dinner: take it or leave it.

(I decided early on I was not about to become a short order cook!)


C said...

The one forbidden phrase in our home (other than "blue" words that no one wants to hear) is "That's stupid" or calling someone or something stupid. Because 18 of our 19 sons were born to other mothers in other countries/cultures (we host high school international exchange students) we deal with culture shock for up to 6 months out of every year as our new sons adapt to their new home and culture. The boys' English skills upon arrival can vary greatly from fluent to very challenged. Stupid is the go to word to describe anything different, confusing, distasteful, or in fact stupid. :) We challenge them to build their vocabulary and self expression in more creative language and explore why they disagree with whatever prompted the forbidden word. It has made for some very lively conversations over the years. We also used blue jars to collect a quarter per blue word or take a small chore slip to do as a consequence for blue words after a couple weeks to get used to the Queen's rules. :) It was amusing to see their expressions when they got busted for using blue words in other languages--how did *I* know those words in languages other than English?


Heather said...

Growing up in apartments, the main rules were no running, jumping, bouncing balls or rough-housing indoors. Those sort of activities were to be taken outside or to a gym, where they would not disturb the neighbors.

There was also no loud music, get your homework/chores done before watching TV or playing with friends, and we were required to exercise the dog outside every day, rain or shine, the only exception being if there was a blizzard.

It's amazing to me how many people don't understand that what might be acceptable if you own your own home isn't necessarily acceptable when you share walls, floors and ceilings with others. It's a matter of having consideration for others--but then, "The Golden Rule" doesn't seem to be taught anymore, either.

Julie Hyzy said...

I really enjoy hearing everyone's take on this topic. I like the "no stupid" rule, too. Good one to teach young.

Rules seem to be all about making sure we look out for each other - like making sure the toilet seat is down, or not complaining about mom's dinner, or making someone feel bad with the word stupid. And, Heather, you're right about apartment living. My grandparents had an apartment building and when we visited we weren't ever allowed to scrape our chairs backward because that could be annoying to the people downstairs. That translated to not scraping them at home too. It's all about being aware of how our actions impact others, isn't it?

Anne said...

I so did not need to see that picture of gelato. YUM!