My children came home from their first days of school so full of excitement! I started thinking about our home life as I listened to them talk about the expectations their teachers had for them – knowing full well that my children really will do everything above and beyond necessary to please their teachers. Maybe I should see if my children would pretend that I was a new teacher, and we were starting fresh with some new rules which they could follow as happily as they follow their new classroom rules.
1. No Menu Substitutions
The kitchen at this particular learning facility will be serving ONE thing each night for dinner. I am open to suggestions on meal ideas, but when it comes down to it, what I place before you is what you are eating. Please remember that at one point each of you were toddlers and I was chasing after you trying to get you to stop eating the dog food out of the bowl. I promise you, most of what I make probably tastes better than dog food!
2. Practice Bathroom Courtesy
This year, I expect all of you to master one very important benchmark: if the toilet paper is out, please replace it! Take a moment, take the toilet paper holder off the rack, insert the new roll of toilet paper and then return the holder to its correct position. Do not set the toilet paper on the lid of the toilet or on the floor by the toilet. Do not roll it out the door or put it in the sink so that when someone washed their hands it gets wet. Think of it like a puzzle. Take it apart and put it back together. You can do it, I know you can!
3. Wait Your Turn To Talk
If you need something and I am on the phone, please wait politely until I am done. Do not look at me as if you are going to implode if you have to wait (unless you really are – then you may go ahead and get my attention) and don’t mouth what you need from me. I don’t read lips. If I am having a grown-up conversation and I get up and walk away, I promise I will come right back to you as soon as I get off the phone. You don’t have to follow me around like an aggressive tailgater.
4. Play Nice
If someone makes you mad, walk away. Do not bicker, yell, scream my name, or ask me if I can please give your siblings away. Changing families is not an option. Do not waste your breath telling me that I favor one of your siblings. I love each of you more than you will ever know, for the amazing individuals that you are. Don’t get me wrong; at the moment you are rolling your eyes at me, I just might like one of the others a little better. But it is just for that moment.
5. Make Sure To Plan Ahead
If you come home from school and surprise me by telling me that you told your class you would bring 30 special treats to school in the morning and I don’t have anything handy to make, I hope that your class will be cool with a relish tray of whatever pickles and olives I can find in the fridge. With a little notice I will be more than happy to help you make great treats!
6. No Bed Time Stalling
During the school week, bedtime is non-negotiable. I don’t care if you aren’t tired, trust me, I am. Bedtime is not the time to suddenly remember that you have a huge assignment due in the morning; it is not the time to search the house for a phone charger or to remember that you need me to iron your pleated skirt that has been on the floor of your closet for a week. I love our bedtime rituals, but we can not spend 30 minutes every night running through the list of blessing every person we know, every pet that we have ever had, and every character you have ever seen on television. It is just taking up a lot of time trying to say the names of every person competing on the Glee project and America’s Got Talent. I think a “Bless everyone we know and love” should cover it.
Finally, I know that everyone’s house is nicer than ours. I know that everyone’s mom is cooler than yours. And I know that kids from small families are so much luckier than you. I get that all because believe it or not, I was once a child in a big family just like you. But if you want a tip for making our house really nice, why don’t you try putting the toilet paper on the roll? That might make us have the nicest house around!