Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Children's Bill of Non-Rights

Dear children,

It is summer, and as you know, our daily life is a little different. We are not bound by bus schedules, carpool schedules, or gym schedules, and that means things get a little flexible.

However, the relaxed attitude of summer does NOT mean that all rules and discipline go out the window. You are not the King and Queen of Everything, and I think a few guidelines are in order.

Bill of Non-Rights

I. You do not have the right to watch all thirteen episodes of The New Scooby-Doo on DVD every single day.

II. You do not have the right to use the rewind button on the VCR as an act of aggression against your little brother.

III. You do not have the right to be given a milkshake every time we drive past a McDonald's.

IV. If you play a game that includes the words, "OK, now you sit on me and hit me with that pillow", you do not have the right to come and cry to me that your sister hit you.

V. If you want a drink of water, you know where the faucet is.

VI. You do not have the right to get back out of bed every half hour on the half hour until 11:30 p.m. When I say it's time for bed, IT'S TIME FOR BED.

VII. You do not have the right to whack your brother/sister on the arm for "looking at you funny." You also do not have the right to look at your brother/sister funny for fifteen minutes straight without some kind of parental intervention.

VIII. You do not have the right to wear your pajamas until 2 p.m. No, I don't have to explain why, it's just the way it is.

IX. Contrary to local popular belief, it is not child abuse to restrict the consumption of popsicles to one per day, even if it is 95 degrees outside. Also, there is nothing wrong with requiring you to eat them on the back porch and wash your hands afterwards. Washing hands is not in fact recognized as torture by the Geneva Convention.

X. You do not have the right to cover your body with band-aids as a visual reminder of every time your sibling accidentally bumped into you.

XI. You do not have the right to eat all of the Jelly Bellies your mom bought as a special treat for your dad, even if they were sitting right there out in the open on his computer desk, even if they are your most favorite treat ever, and even if the bag was sort of open already.

XII. You do not have the right to be the first one in the door every time we come home, nor do you have the right to punch your sibling for going in the door ahead of you. You do not have the right to spread your arms out or trip your sibling to keep them from getting in first, and you do not have the right to make "mean faces" at your sibling if he or she should happen to elude you and get through first.

XIII. If you sleep in the basement, I do not care who sleeps on which side of the couch. I don't care which is the favored side at the moment. I don't care if you have bad dreams on the left side of the couch, or if you can only sleep if you have your enormous toy horse standing next to you. If you interrupt me one more time with a couch-based complaint while I'm watching "24", I will put you to bed in your own room even if it IS the approximate temperature of Death Valley in there.

XIV. Playing outside on a beautifully sunny day is not cruel and unusual punishment, and you can expect to find that it is suddenly your only option if you say the words "I'm bored" seventeen times in fifteen minutes. And no, you may not dig a hole with a shovel, you may not wash the house with the hose, you may not put your brother up in the oak tree, you may not build a "home for ants" in the middle of the driveway, you may not pick the heads off the roses and put them in a pretty pile, and you may not have a hammer and nails for any reason. I really mean it about the shovel.


I. I promise I will feed you good food three times a day, and sometimes you might even get hot dogs.

II. I promise that you will always have clean clothes to wear, even if I don't do daily laundry so you can wear that one pair of pants every single day all summer long.

III. I promise we will take fun trips to the park, the library, the carousel, and the Capital Building so we can feed the squirrels, even if we don't do them on the exact day you had in mind. You will not die of boredom on the days we stay home, I promise.

IV. I promise I will let you play in the sprinkler sometimes. But just as a heads-up, when you ask to do it at 9:45 p.m., the answer will always be "no".

V. I love you with all my heart, my sweet silly kids.

All items are subject to change without notice, even if that doesn't seem fair, even if it's not the way your friend's mom does it, even if that's not how we did it last time, and even if you think it's going to make you have bad dreams, throw up, cry, have an unexplainable ache in your left arm, or (dramatic sob) Never Be Happy Again.

Well, OK, all items are subject to change except the "I love you" one ... that one, you can count on.



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