Mimi’s Rules

Uh…arg…oh my gosh,

Oh…Mimi…What rule is this?

     Freckled faced, handsome in spite of his pug nose, thirteen-year-old Carl stared blankly at me across the bar that separated the kitchen and the family room. One, maybe both of us, mouths suspended, said nothing. What rule was it? Our rules suddenly so cumbersome neither could conjure a guess.

     Carl shrugged; his pause stole the urgency. Then off to the solace of his room and whatever game currently captured his attention. Betty followed to hers, pleasingly content that her brother had not exactly won their latest squabble.

     Sinking back into the comfort of an easy chair now molded to the contours of my body from long hours of reading, grading papers and pondering, I asked myself, “What rule is it? How many rules do we have anyway? There weren’t always so many.”

    My freshman year in college our orientation teacher explained that rules are made because someone’s boundaries are not respected. Right on! So when children learn responsibilities and boundaries, how do we define them? Are ten enough? Do we need as many as, say, Congress? 

      Are rules made to help, or rule? …Sobering…

      Nightfall came. The questions nagged and gnawed at my brain.

     Finally morning dawned. Ahh, mornings. Everything looks brighter with yesterday in the backdrop. Settling into my chair before the kids began another cacophony: “Get out of my room!” “Why don’t you mind your own business?” “I’m bored.” “Do I have to?” new thoughts emerged. Quickly penning a note with squigglies and smiley faces, the new sign on the fridge read:  

      Take care of yourself.

      Take care of your space.

      Make a contribution.

      Easy rules to follow. Umm, well…sorta.

     The kids figured the first two out pretty fast. The third one was a kicker. Three teens and one almost, tried quickly to map out the shortest and easiest possible contribution. After all, biking in the park and running with their friends was lots more important. 

     “Not so fast, what one person feels is a contribution may not be so to another.  A contribution is a compact! We both agree,” I chided, deciding we could get to Random Acts of Kindness later.

     Well, we stuck by those simple rules. Now they have wings. Little one’s of their own occupy new hopes and dreams.

     Bon voyage! From this Mimi, BJ, to four very special grandchildren.