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In every orderly house, the members follow a set of conduct guidelines. We try to be good people, and Katie and I practice and enforce the moral standards that we inherited from our parents. But, the golden rule and other tenets don’t always apply directly to certain situations (especially if you are three-and-a-half or almost two years old).
How does a family deal with these situations, that often occur daily, on White Oak Road?
We’ve come up with the following set of principles and accepted truths to help keep our household happy and productive:
- Be sweet to Robah… he never done nothin’ to nobody (and when you recite this rule, use Robah voice). All the rest of us have been mean or rude one time or another, but Robah never done nothin’ to nobody. Here’s McLain, mouth full of eggs, proving why this rule is necessary as he comes close to crossing the line.
- At any time, in any place, JAMS will be played on request. For example, let’s say Cokie Roberts’ Monday segment is on NPR when we get in the car to go to Ms. Rose’s house, and Jackie says, “Play some JAMS, Dada.” Then, it’s goodbye Cokie, hello Bear in Heaven, Guided by Voices, J Dilla, etc.
Note: “Dada” is the keeper of the JAMS, and this is the only situation in which a “please” is not required (see rule #4).
- Always thank Katie/Mama for dinner; we’ve got it really, really good. On the rare occasion that Dad cooks, try washing it down with your milk.
- Manners matter; good manners is an easy way to show respect to your co-eaters. Exception: good manners are postponed if McLain is practicing for his future in competitive eating.
- If Baxter brings you something, and you throw it he will fetch it and return it to you. If you continue to throw it for him, the result will eventually be Baxter passing out or maybe even perpetual motion.
- Every story told to Jackie at bed time must feature at least two of the following characters: a mean witch, a nice witch, a family, mean or nice animals, and girls with pretty dresses (including, but not limited to princesses). The more of these characters you work into the narrative, the more positive her post-story review is likely to be.
- Try not to show off at the playground, even though Jackie might swing better by herself than an older boy being pushed by his mom.
- Any statement that begins with, “I want…” automatically gets the following response: “Oh, you want something? Okay, well, I want a new custom-built home computer and compatible wireless music system.” Please ask nicely for something that you want, and understand that you might not get it.
- If McLain takes off his shirt and runs around the house or yard, don’t be alarmed. He has been possessed with his alter ego, Party Boy. In extreme situations, you can change Party Boy back to McLain by putting him in a bubble bath.
- As you go through life, assist other people (the Kendall Marshall rule). When you’re the recipient of an assist, be grateful and give credit to anyone who assists you (the Dean Smith corollary).