Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our House Rocks...

No, sadly, not with wild sex. My husband and I barely have time for that anymore, never mind the kind that would rock a house. We occasionally cuddle in the closet, whilst hiding from our three children, but really, that's about all we have time for.

Recently, I found myself uttering the following sentence to my two-year-old: daughter “We, as a family, don’t sneak into the crib and slick our baby brother up like a seal with Daddy’s Old Spice deodorant.” Now this got me to thinking – I often find myself making reference to the collective “we”. We don’t do that or We really like this or We shouldn’t say that. This gave me an idea: I was going to create a set of house rules, paste them up on the fridge and be done with it. House rules – the rules all inhabitants of said household shall follow. Don’t like ‘em? Move out. Period. This way, no one’s the bad guy, that’s just the way this house rolls.

So my husband and I took a crack at creating the initial list. We then reviewed it with Jack, as we felt his input was important so he felt part of the solution. If they feel that it’s their plan all along, they shall lovingly embrace it and follow. (Rule of Directing, 101).

Now before I share what we came up with, I have a confession to make. I loved the overall concept of coming up with this list, but it got me to thinking: kids hate rules. Hell, for the most part, adults hate rules. Yes, they’re important and make sense (for the most part…that’s under the grand assumption that the person making them possesses a modicum of common sense), although no one likes being told what to do. So I thought on this and came up with a solution. Why not find a fun way to get the same message across in a way that might be a little more stimulating for the kids? Use something we have an abundance of here on the Prairies?

Here’s what I came up with. I’ve written each declaration on a rock and numbered the other side; not only can they play with the rocks (and in all likelihood, eventually throw at each other’s heads), but it’ll help them learn their numbers. Two birds, one stone. Oh, friends, my cleverness rears its ugly head from time-to-time, and there’s no taming the beast. And the kids? They LOVE them. They play with them, ask us to read them, line them up in order...occasionally, James tries to eat one; really, there’s no end to the fun. So without further ado, here they are – Our House Rocks:

ROCK #1 - We love each other. No matter what.

I firmly believe it’s our role as parents to teach our children how to love each other. No option. You don’t have to be the best of friends with all your family members (in my case, prescription drugs certainly help), but you do have to love them and have their backs when times get tough. Period. Love them for who they are, don’t hate them for who they’re not. DO NOT let your kids off the hook on this one. My parents taught me that you stick it out as a family, for better or for worse. It’s the first vow you learn to take and not break.

Now parents, be forewarned: the first time you put your child on the time-out chair after incorporating this particular rule, you’ll be admonished (quite fiercely): “What’s rule number one in this house, Mommy? Rule number one is that we love each other. And you’re not loving me right now by putting me on this chair!” Oh, sweetheart. It hurts me more than it hurts you. (Not really, but I’ve heard other parents say this. I want to appear equally charming and maternal.)

ROCK #2 - We are nice and thoughtful.

ROCK #3 - We hug after fights and say sorry. Gently. (Jack asked me to add the “gently” bit…when I asked him what he meant by this, he said you’re not allowed to shout it. It has to be gently. Wise little dude.)

ROCK #4 - We always use our manners.

ROCK #5 - We cover our mouth when sneezing.

ROCK #6 - We don’t pick our nose. Unless it’s stuck. (The last part was another addition from Jack. He makes a valid point; if God hadn’t intended for us to go on in there, he wouldn’t have made our fingers fit so beautifully.)

ROCK #7 - We take turns with toys and share.

ROCK #8 - We listen to each other, we don’t interrupt and we’re respectful when talking back. (We allow talking back, as most things we tell them lead to questions or comments, which we encourage. We just ask that it’s done gently.)

ROCK #9 - We always tell the truth. (We don’t ever want them to be afraid to tell us what happened. Shit happens. Let’s talk about it.)

ROCK #10 - We know that Mommy and Daddy are in charge. (As my mom so cleverly shared with me, kids come to live with you, not the other way around. They become part of your life, they don’t run it. Your choice.)

ROCK #11 - We all pitch in to help with chores. Even during play-offs. (The latter being added for my husband. It’s bound to sink in one day.)

ROCK #12 - We talk about our favourite things every day.

ROCK #13 - We read a story every day.

ROCK #14 - We say our prayers every day.

ROCK #15 - We stay in our own beds for a good night’s sleep. (Translation: we don’t wander the house during the night like an intruder, only to give our mother a heart attack when she opens her eyes to find us breathing on her face.)

ROCK #16 - We don’t push, hit, bite, punch or kick. (Addition from Jack; this is a very important rule in school and daycare and he insisted it be included. For the record, I refrain from doing any of said things to my children.)

ROCK #17 - We don’t jump from the roof because we will hurt our self and die. (Final addition from Jack; he was so serious when he said it that I had to add it. Better safe than sorry.)

ROCK #18 – Our House Rocks – with silliness, laughter, singing and dancing.

One of my favourite quotes is from the author Shauna Neiguist and it goes as follows: "I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”

Although the “stay up all night laughing” is in direct violation of ROCK #15, this quote is how I want to live my life, and in doing so, pass the gift on to my children. I want God to know that we love his gift…that our love for it is staggering. I want our house to rock with it.

I’m sure over the coming years, modifications will be made - some rocks will be changed out, some eaten, some will stay, some will go, new ones will be added. Take Turns might morph into Be Gracious and No Nose Picking may turn into Please talk to us before you make any big decisions about your body. But for now? They work. As for my rocks? They’re the people who live in this house – when things shift around me and I can’t see through the darkness, they’re my light. When I feel like I can’t go on, they’re my strength. They’re the rocks I pray are with me the rest of my days.

Our House Rocks...

Peanut acting all like, "Oh, damn. I didn't know that rule made the cut."

Totally unrelated photo, however walking in on this made me laugh...xo


Hillary said...

You're house rules rock, in every form of the meaning! I'll be keeping this in mind for future days when I have a family (because damn it that will happen).

Also thanks for sharing the Shauna Neiguist quote. Pretty amazing. Sometimes we need to be reminded to let go and be free.

Des said...

Hi Janita! I'm Meg's friend, Desiree. We met at her 30th B'day a while back. Stumbled across your blog and I'm hooked. Your babies are adorable, your writing is've made me laugh out loud more than once! Just wanted to say I love the rock idea. Kudos for creativity!! Let us know how the enforcement goes! Cheers!

Tash said...

Such a lovely idea. Let us know when and how many items get broken thanks to these gems of wisdom. I have a quick question about Rock #17.......I assume this still applies even if you happen to have a gunny sack for a parachute?
You make my heart sing.

Wynter said...

I laughed so hard at the vision of you waking up to a creepy wanderer right over your face! Your kids rock, you guys rock and your rocks rock! Sweet idea! :)

Melanie said...

I love this idea! You're a wonderful mommy! Your blogs always bring tears and laughter, no matter how my day went. Thank you. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love this Janita - you are so creative!

Jodi Carmichael said...

Janita, reading your blog is the perfect start to my day.

We needed a rock that said, "No jumping off anything higher than a chair. Even if it's a dare." My then 5 year old, jumped off the roof of a friend's van because her buddy double-dog-dared her.

Of course, I saw it unfold while glancing out the kitchen window of the cottage. I knew she was in trouble when she silently screamed up the path and lept into my arms.

If only we had cottage rocks...

K :) said...

Ha! This idea totally rocks!!!

Kristy said...

You are so creative! Love, love, love the rock idea!

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