This morning my second grader asked me for “the rules.”
Every morning when his alarm goes off, he comes flying into our room and crawls under the covers to snooze and snuggle. When he’s good and wiggly, we go through the same routine every single day.
Him: I’m going to get dressed now.
Me: OK, don’t forget to brush your teeth.
Him: And then what?
Me: Same thing as every morning. Turn out your lights, feed the cat, start packing your lunch, put your shoes on.
Him: And then what?
Normally, that’s when I get a little frustrated. We go through this every single morning. He keeps asking in the vague hope that he’ll be told he can watch cartoons until time for school.
That’s not going to happen. It’s too distracting for other family members and I really don’t do well with that much noise before my coffee kicks in.
Every single day, I give him the same response.
Me: Um… sweep the floor?
Me: Start a load of laundry?
Me: Read a book.
Today, I decided to change things up a bit.
Me: Why are you asking?
Him: Because I don’t know what I can do.
Me: You don’t?
Him: I don’t know what the rules are for today.
I should tell you that my son is a pretty black-and-white kind of guy. He’s a stickler for following the rules. The EXACT rules.
If, for example, I told him that we had a rule of “no underwear at the breakfast table” he would show up fully dressed except for one essential item. When queried about his decision to go commando, he would grin and quote the rule.
We’ve deliberately avoided having written family rules because it’s an exercise in absurdity. By the time we get a precise wording of the rule, it’s so long and ridiculous that it looks like it was written by a committee of lawyers. Even the short and simple “be dressed appropriately for breakfast” has been a subject for debate.
(You said to be appropriate for breakfast. These are my breakfast pants.)
He’s rebellious in small ways. We recognize it for what it is.
As we start our journey into homeschooling, it occurs to me that a few written rules up front might make my life a WHOLE LOT easier. So I spent some time trying to draft our rules.
The first effort read more like an FAQ for mommies.
FAQ (frequently answered questions) for moms
No, you may not walk outside barefoot.
Yes, you need to brush your teeth.
Yes, I really expected you to be dressed before breakfast.
No, I don’t want to pull your finger.
Put the cat down.
Yes, you are expected to put your own trash away… and dishes… and laundry.
Yes, we all do housework.
The next effort was a bit vague.
The (really big) rules
Speak with love.
Listen in kindness.
Touch with gentleness.
Act with goodness.
Wait with patience.
Anticipate with joy.
Live in faithfulness.
Be a good steward.
(of time, money, things, and grace)
When in doubt, Grace and prayer are your best choices.
I like it.
I suspect it needs a little more detail to be useful in my son’s eyes. But it captures the essence of every other rule I can think of.
But for now…. those are the rules.