house rules: chapter 1: be nice

This is the first in a series of posts about our House Rules.

House Rules
Chapter 1:
BE NICE

Ask nicely


There's a rumor going around the toddler swingset. 

Some diaper-swagged 2-year-old bastard has been telling everybody that when parents say "ask nicely," what we really mean is, "ask louder and faster. Make sure to drag out the vowels nice and long. Fall to the ground. Go limp. Like old celery. Keep going until you get what you want." 

Somebody better tell me which kid it was who started this. 

For the record, kid, if you want a banana and you're picking a strategy, I'd probably go with a kiss on the cheek and a simple "may I have a banana, please?" over this operatic tragedy:

Banana
I want a banana
Mommy
Mommy
Mommy
Banana
Can I have a banana
Can I have a banana
Can I have a banana
Banana
Banana
MOMMY!
BANANA  
I WANT A BANANAAAAA
NOOOOOOOOOOOW 
BANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
WWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH
I JUST WAAAAAANT AAAA BAAAA NAAAAA NAAAAA
I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED IIIIIIIIT
THE BAAANAAAAAAANAAAAAAAA...


No calling people dumb

There are lots of ways to call somebody dumb. 
One is to say "you're dumb."

Another is to say, "why are you scared of shadows? Shadows aren't scary. Don't be a weenie."
Or, "you have nothing to be sad about. Quit crying."
Or, "that's a picture of a dog? It doesn't look like a dog to me. It just looks like scribbles."
Or "I told you not to touch the hot pan! See? Now your finger is burned."

People are scared of lots of things. They might not make sense to you. You might not think that the things people are scared of are even real things, like people who are scared of dragons or Ted Cruz. But all scared is scared. If you tell people that they're scared of dumb stuff, that they don't have to be scared, all they hear is "not only are you afraid, but you're also dumb."

People get sad about lots of things. They might not make you sad. You might think there are people dying of Ebola out there, and people whose takeout order was wrong need to just suck it up and quit being so sad about nothing. But all sad is sad. If you tell people they're sad about dumb stuff, all they hear is, "not only are you sad, but you're also dumb."

It takes guts to make something and then show it to people. You might not think it looks like a dog. But there's a nice way to say that. A way that doesn't sound like, "you're dumb for scribbling and thinking it's a dog."

Holy shit
that's the best fucking dog picture I have ever seen.
Not only does it totally look like a dog
but it can also probably tell a trained psychotherapist
if you're a sociopath
which
is pretty impressive work
for someone who is afraid of the shower.

Sometimes people have to touch the hot pan to believe they'll get burned. You know what people with burned fingers need? Cool water, kisses, band-aids, and maybe a popsicle. You know what people with burned fingers don't need? To be told how dumb they are.


Say sorry

Man, oh man, we all mess up a lot. We lose our tempers, pour full buckets of bath water on the floor, eye-gouge when we know that eye-gouging time is over. We yell. We hurt each other. Then we say we're sorry. 

Chicken doesn't know what that means yet.

So we have a "sorry alternative" for him:

Baby, you just pushed your brother.
Can you please tell your brother that you don't want to hurt him?
"You're my brother, Buster.
And I don't want to hurt you.
Even though I want you to go away
and not bug me
and stop eatin my stuff
and quit grabbin me
and--"
Okay, okay, that's good, Chicken.
Be proud of each other

Hang up the scribbled drawing of a rainstorm in the dining room where all our friends will see it. Amazing! 
Clap and cheer when Buster falls down after lurching three drunken, heaving steps. Yes!
Regale all we meet with the epic tale of Chicken, who used the potty THREE TIMES yesterday!

WITH THE GRACE AND ATHLETICISM OF A TRUE CHAMPION!

Everybody comes first sometimes


Nobody comes first all the time. Sometimes you have to wait for Daddy to finish writing an email before he can read a story. Sometimes you have to wait for Mommy to change Buster's diaper before she can make your breakfast. Sometimes I have to wait for you to finish building your tower before we put on your shoes. 

But everybody comes first sometimes. Sometimes Mommy turn off the stove and come play cake-baking the very second you ask her to. Sometimes Daddy will tell Chicken that he has to wait so that Buster can play hide-and-seek under the blanket as soon as he crawls over and starts waving the blanket in the air. 

#1 most important thing right now


Say dinner was yummy

You don't have to mean it. But say it.

This did not in any way remind me of cafeteria food, mom.
And sometimes it's nice to eat a meal that doesn't have enough salt!
Yum!


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