Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Rules of Engagement (repost)


My eldest son came home a few days ago from his apartment 20 minutes away on campus. I thought he would hang out on campus a little longer, but I think he was out of food. I had hopes that he would work a lot of hours over the break (i.e. make a lot of $$) but he is not on the schedule until the new year. That means he is home (and I love that he's home, but too much down time is never good for anyone -- he sleeps all day and stays up all night) and reentry is never easy. The new oldest (the second oldest) gets knocked back into second place, and never appreciates the displacement. The other kids love having the oldest home, but he tends to treat them more like he's their father than a siblings. Lets just say we have our issues. 

I was reminded this morning of the rules of engagement that I wrote a few years ago (the more things change the more they stay the same). I am reposting them here for your enjoyment. Especially if you have college-age kids who have returned home, or kids who leave home each day for school but now are stuck indoors together, I'm sure you will appreciate them.

...I offer the eleven rules of sibling engagement in my house.

Today we took college boy back to campus. It's been a long break, can I say that? I had hopes, I honestly did, that he would have matured, even slightly, after being away from his siblings for 10 weeks. But, alas, he is still the same, developmentally-a-three-year-old son I sent away to college. If that surprises you and you think my college-age son is more immature than his peers, I assure you that many parents of teens (o.k., and young adults) will tell you that teens regress exponentially the older they are, and become the preschoolers they once were, except without the endless cuteness. I don't know when the regression reverses. Anybody? Anybody?

Anyway, I digress. The rules of engagement are the same as they were before college boy spent 10 weeks and thousands of dollars away from home, except that in shorts bursts of time, as are found at holiday breaks, they are excruciating to "parental units." And, of course, "parental units" have vastly less patience when dealing with major holidays, out-of-town family, and bickering children. The rules of engagement are, in many ways, similar to the toddler rules of possession, because, I have found, all children are really toddlers at heart.

1. Size is power, and I have it.

2. Age is power, and I have it.

3. I can get you in trouble, and that's power, and I have it.

4. The last cookie/candy/soda/piece of pizza/shotgun position in the car is mine because I say it is.

5. I can love you one minute and hate you the next minute and I don't have to warn you that I am changing my mind.

6. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names hurt feelings and I'm telling mom.

7. If mom screams, everybody freeze.

8. If mom asks who did it, don't say anything.

9. If engaged in verbal combat, always stoop to the developmental level of the youngest child involved.

10. Yelling in fun sounds just like yelling in anger to mom and we will be in trouble irregardless. Don't yell.

11. If you get in trouble, kissing mom on the cheek will break her down and she will forget that you are in trouble.



  1. Oh, I can so relate. My daughter comes home tomorrow to sleep all day and stay awake all night. Why!

  2. Here too...I just picked up Big Brother at school this morning. 20 minutes after walking in, he left--and won't be back until very late tonight. (OK, he's visiting out-of-town cousins. But still.)
    We're definitely a pit stop, a place for him to refuel (eat and sleep and shower.) Meanwhile, Little Brother just wants to play with him--and Middle Sister wants him to take her places.

  3. I remember these rules well...wait...I live these rules. HA! Our oldest returns tomorrow for about 3 weeks, then he'll head back for work before class begins...our youngest took her last exams today and is officially on a 2 wk. Christmas break...has she done any of her assigned chores...NO! And that middle one...thing #2...leaves for 5 days in Aspen, CO tonight. Another family actually INVITED him to go with them...I think he has them fooled...they don't really know him...they don't live with him. Temp. in Aspen this morning was 6 degrees...either the cold will freeze some sense into him or his nuggets will just fall off. LIttle Miss Rosebud at 20 months of age is the easiest of all! :)

  4. I LUB LUB this.
    This helps me so much to see and understand what is in my near future. I have a 15yr who is slowly but surely getting to be 3 again.

    I am going to print this out and share with hubby.

  5. Oh, boy. I can't wait!
    There's a version of this in our home, but it is for Dad's return when he's been gone. LOL! It's hard for me to relinquish my position when he marches through the door after a long absence.

    Thanks for these. I love love love the last one. It is so true.

  6. Ok, so I'm really late getting to this, but YES! Once they move out -- it NEVER changes, this is how it is... especially when they live out of town.
    So true Barb, SFO, Mom and Dad's place is just a pit-stop-turned free-babysitting-service and we still don't get to see our kid. Well, Maybe at mealtime - if we're lucky.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!