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My new sofa arrives next month, which means the behemoth in the den will go to the Goodwill. If they’ll take it. I blame my husband for the sofa’s demise.

He didn’t follow the house rules.

We’re all products of our upbringing. Whether we acknowledge it or not, certain manners and routines we abided by as children are permanently stamped in our conscience. For me, it’s the house rules my mom imposed.

As a kid, disregarding the tenets for harmonious living meant risking a tongue lashing or worse, the smack on the back of the legs with the plastic handle of the fly swatter.

Mom kept the fly swatter on top of the fridge. Whenever she’d reach for it, I knew whatever I’d done had pushed her over the edge. If I was fast enough, I’d book it to the bathroom, the only room in the house with a lock on the door.

The principle of timeouts didn’t exist. The old adage, stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about, is forever branded in my memory. Sound familiar?

There were lots of house rules, but here’s a handful I remember.

  • No shoes or newspapers on the sofa. (That’s how my husband ruined the sofa.)
  • No “plopping” or sitting down hard on the sofa. Mom claimed it ruined the springs.
  • Bedroom doors stayed open when I had friends over to play.
  • The living room was off limits except for piano practice.
  • Don’t even think about changing the channel while Mom watched the Tom Jones variety show. (It could’ve been worse if she was into Lawrence Welk.)
  • No squirt guns or balls in the house.
  • Absolutely no jumping on the bed or slamming of doors.
  • Piano practice and homework must be completed before I could watch television.
  • Any food that fell onto the floor during mealtimes must be picked up immediately. (Mom had “rice-radar” and always knew if something as tiny as a grain of rice fell from my plate.)
  • Don’t feed the dog at the dinner table. (Somehow, I managed to feed the dog at the table every night.)

Despite the rules, I had it pretty good. My parents didn’t designate bed times. My sister and I stayed up late. They limited our soda intake but let us drink coffee. Unless we had company visiting, my folks didn’t care if our beds were made. I still don’t make my bed. But it raises my hackles if I see newspapers on the sofa or when someone slams a door.

What were some of the house rules you grew up with? Have you instilled any of them in your household?

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