One of my more effective parental strategies is to make Lists of Rules to be Obeyed And I Really Mean it This Time, and post these articles on the refrigerator in the kitchen so my children will have a written record of what they are ignoring. Over time, these rules have progressed from the simple "Wipe your Feet!" to the more complex "Would you please clean up your makeup it looks like the FBI has been dusting for fingerprints."
"WE should make a list of rules for YOU," my older daughter raved when I pointed out she was in violation of Rule Number 412, "Stop Sitting So Close to Your Boyfriend on the Couch It's Time for Him to Go Home Anyway." Having more than one teenage daughter under roof, I can just guess what these rules would be:
Ten Teenager Rules for Parents
- Rule One:
- When you are dropping me off at the mall, please keep your face averted so that none of my friends will see you. I will leave the car without a word, sullenly slamming the door as if I'm furious at you for doing me such a favor. Do not roll down the window and say anything pleasant to me as I stomp off, as this will spoil the mood.
- Rule Two:
- I don't care who owns the house, my bedroom is my property and you are barred from entering without invitation. If I'm gone and all the lights are on and the stereo is blaring, you'll just have to live with it. And if it upsets you so much to look under my bed, don't.
- Rule Three:
- It is ridiculous for you to answer the telephone when you know it is going to be for me. And no, you may not, EVER, ask who is calling. It embarrasses me for my friends to hear your voice. And if you don't like the way I take messages, stop having people call you at home.
- Rule Four:
- By now you know you need to leave enough time to stop for gas when you take the car somewhere. I'm 'way too busy to fill the tank myself, and anyway I had to spend the gas money you gave me to buy lunch. If it's such a big deal to you, maybe you should get me my own car.
- Rule Five:
- Okay, I KNOW you also gave me lunch money. I spent it at the movies. Stop poking your nose into my personal finances.
- Rule Six:
- I am not cold and do not need to "cover up." How would you know what is "appropriate dress?" You don't even know where I'm going!
- Rule Seven:
- Since the only reason you give me a curfew is so YOU can go to sleep, curfew is hereby rescinded. And you may never again ask me "Do you know what time it is?" when I come home. If I wanted to know what time it was I would wear a watch. If you think it is so late, maybe you should be asleep instead of pacing around in the living room.
- Rule Eight:
- Would you STOP telling me "what boys want?" How would you know, anyway? Things were completely different when you were a teenager. Quit spying out the window when we pull in the driveway. And stop asking my boyfriend if he's sure his tattoo is okay with his "parole officer;" it wasn't funny the first time.
- Rule Nine:
- Weekends and vacations are my time OFF. It really ruins my mood when you give me these lists of chores.
- Rule Ten:
- Can you drive me to the mall? And I need some money.
Of course, if my teenagers ever post these rules, I know just how to react. First, I will scream that none of my friends have these stupid rules. Then I'll yell that they are "ruining my life" and run to my room and slam the door. Once there I will turn up my stereo until all the windows in the house are rattling. Then I will sullenly stomp out of the house and sit on the porch, where everyone can see me pout.
I can't wait.
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