Thou shalt not anger thy mama
I don't know what they taught my kids when they were in school (about the time the earth cooled), but I thought they should have taught common sense. They could have started with a simple lesson like: "We do not put peanut butter in the refrigerator because this makes peanut butter hard and impossible to spread and that makes Mother impossible to live with." I thought of a whole list of commandments which should have been memorized by all children over the age of five. For example:
It shall be strictly forbidden for anyone to put an empty milk carton into the refrigerator or an empty ice tray (remember those?) into the freezer.
Clothes to be thrown in the dirty clothes hamper must first be removed from the hanger.
Mother's manicure scissors must never be used to cut the tops off cereal boxes. Nor may the box tops be cut off before the cereal is all gone, at which time, and only then, is it permissible to remove the premium toy from the bottom of the box. Under no circumstances may the cereal be poured into the sink to find the prize. The prize toy automatically becomes the property of the youngest child in the household, unless it sticks, pokes, scratches, or leaves an indelible mark, in which case it is to be surreptitiously destroyed (the toy, not the child).
We do not put bananas in the freezer; we do not put banana peels in the desk drawer.
Under no circumstances may our home be shared with the following: (A) a bird whose wing the cat just chewed off; (B) any pet remotely resembling a rodent; (C) anything at all that is offensively odoriferous. Exceptions will be made, however reluctantly, if the odoriferous object is a twelve-year-old boy who belongs here.
It should be understood that, when Mother says: "Take those filthy tennis shoes to the laundry room and put them in the washing machine right this very minute!" she should not be taken literally if, at right this very minute, her lace tablecloth is in the rinse cycle.
Shortcuts should be avoided when they undermine a parental command. For instance, tossing a garbage bag full of household trash along the highway, instead of placing it in the dumpster as instructed, can be detrimental to the family's reputation (a sheriff's citation in a small town is hard to ignore).
When they read the above commandments for kids, my children demanded the right to rebuttal and submitted the following commandments for parents:
Thou shalt not, if the weather turns suddenly cold on a school day, bring my jacket to school and say to the teacher in front of the whole third grade: "Will you give this to Dusty? I wouldn't want him to catch cold."
Thou shalt not, if I am on a date with the cutest boy in the senior class, leave the porch light burning.
Thou shalt not, when we are entertaining friends, show off the family album, the family trophies, or the family parents.
Thou shalt not, when I am studying at the kitchen table with my steady girlfriend, Marilla, ask: "Would you like some more lemonade, Monica?" (Monica is long gone, Mother; try to keep current!)
Thou shalt not, when chaperoning our school dances, dance.
Thou shalt not, even in the privacy of our own home, refer to any of us as: Sweet Cakes, Precious Peach; Sugar Bear; or Corey Teaguer-Bean-Dio.
Thou shalt not, when entering our bedrooms, ask any of the following questions: "What's that I smell?" "How can you live in this pigpen?" "Are you going to sleep all week?" "What's that magazine you just shoved under your mattress?"
How could kids who make that much sense put peanut butter in the refrigerator?
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