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?
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