Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lemons Family Rules

Dedicated to Joyce and Vince Lemons (Oops, Joyce Eagar-Lemons :))
BRITTNEY: While speaking via Skype with my mother-in-law, she told me I really ought to document some of the rules my parents had for us while we were growing up. I know that all children are different and so parents need to cater their punishments and beatings to the personalities of the children. And that's what my parents did. that what they did. Now many of these rules had sub-rules so that all of the "loopholes" as my MIL calls them, are covered. My parents (Joyce and Vince, lovely people really, despite my memory of some of the punishments) also had a sub-clause that stated they could add or take away from rules, punishments and beatings as they saw fit..because they were the parents. That's the worst phrase to hear as a kid: "because i'm the parent". Shudder.
Rules, in no particular order except perhaps the ones I remember most are being listed first because they were seared into my head.

1. You must eat all food on your plate. Always. Sub-rules: you must take at least one spoonful of everything prepared for dinner, but you do not have to have seconds if you do not like it. If you choose not to finish everything on your plate, you do not get any other food to eat until the next meal. No snacks, nothin'. Now, if I, as the child, did not serve myself, and say my father served me dinner, maybe the portion was too big. But i had to try everthing on my plate. Sub-rule 2: this rule applies when at friends' houses as well. Mom: "I don't care how much you do not like broccoli, if it is served at someone elses house, you will eat at least some of it and smile while doing so."
Lesson learned: I can stomach anything. Seriously. Because of this, maybe i do not like certain foods, but i can eat anything, and i never find myself pushing my peas around my plate when im a guest at someones house. This came in handy while i was in Korea, i ate all sorts of "different" things there.

2. If you complain about what is on the menu for dinner, you are sentanced to a week of cooking dinner for yourself. Sub-rules: the dinner you cook cannot be instant (i.e. ramon noodles, mac and cheese, pb&j, cereal), it must be cooked, and it must include a meat and a vegetable.

3. Because there were five people in the family, the next rule worked well: everyone has 1 weekday/week where they clean up the kitchen after dinner. Each individual is responsible for their own dishes, but then whoever was in charge of clean up had to: clear the table, wipe the table and chair, wipe the counters, stove, sink and inside/outside the microwave, and sweep the floor. Saturdays we were usually gone, and sunday everyone helped out. Occasionally we would be blessed by someone else in the family getting in trouble and their punishment would be to have dinner kitchen duty for a week or two weeks. This meant you got off free for the week. Unless you were the one to get in trouble. Then it wasn't so great.

3. The "JOB BOX". My parents were anti-clutter and anti-stuff-laying-around-the-house. What'd they do about it? They had a job box. If a shoe, a sock, a backpack, a book etc. was left in "common area" (that means: not your bedroom), then it was allowed to be placed in the JOB BOX. If an item was placed in the job box, you had to do a job assigned to you by mom or dad to retrieve that item. No IOUs were allowed, so if monday morning i needed my homework folder from the job box, i had to do my job (usually cleaning spots of the carpet or shoveling snow in Colorado, or sweeping the walkway on Guam) before i could go to school. And those of you that are thinking "you could have snuck the folder into your bag"...wrong. Mom took inventory on the box regularly. And honestly, the punishment for "stealing" from the job box was far worse than the original job would have been. Also, no item was allowed to stay in the job box for more than a week. If it was in there for a week, mom would approach us with a job to do.

4. Promises were always kept. Good and bad. "If you get in trouble at school, you will get in worse trouble at home." True. Always true. "If you lie to us, the punishment will always be worse than if you had just told us the truth in the first place." True again.

5. You ALWAYS finish your homework before the TV goes on. And the TV never goes on before 5pm. We were allowed to watch 2 half hours hows (we usually chose Full House and Home Improvement).

6. Mom will do the laundry, but you have to fold your own laundry and put your own laundry away. And you will fold the laundry while watching your shows at 5pm. Laundry must be completed being folded by the end of the two shows (we had a tendancy to forget about the laundry and just watch).

7. You make your own lunch for school. You may buy hot lunch 1x/week. When you pack a lunch the following must be included: A sandwhich or something to sub as a sandwhich that must be approved by mom, a piece of fruit or some vegetables, and then we were allowed a string cheese or other nutrient filled snack, a less nutrient filled snack (gushers, moon pie etc) and a juice. I made my own lunch starting 1st day of 1st grade. Also, lunches get made the night before. Always. (We found ways around: for one year i took a pickle every day as my vegetable, and my brother took a mayonaise and cornflake sandwhich)

8. You never lie. Ever. Now my sister (Bekka you know i love you) had trouble internalizing this rule. Anthony and I got it down quickly because we hated being grounded, but Bekka seemed to enjoy it. Scenario: Bekka was about 7 or 8 years old. She was in the shower. Suddenly we hear "MOOOOOM. MOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!!!" coming from the bathroom door. I run to see what the comotion is about, cuz im nosy. Bekka has the door cracked open with just her nose sticking out.
Mom: whats wrong?
Bekka: I cut my leg, see??? (she sticks her leg out of the crack in the door, its dripping wet with water, and also dripping blood. It is clearly a razor cut...i deduce in my 12 year old mind at lightning speed that she had attempted to shave her legs while in the shower and cut her leg).
Mom: what did you do? (always a test to see if the truth will come out, since she already knows)
Bekka: I cut my leg!
Mom: HOW did you cut your leg bekka?
Bekka: well i was coming to talk to you and when i opened the door the corner of the door hit my leg and cut it. (smart, but just wait..)
Mom: well what did you want to come talk to me about?
Bekka: i wanted to tell you that i had cut my leg! I told you!
Mom: but...well how did you cut your leg?
Bekka: On the door.
Mom: And how did that happen again?
Bekka: I was coming to talk to you and cut it.
Mom: and what did you want to talk to me about again?
Bekka: I needed to tell you i cut my leg!
Now, this proceeded for another round or two and then my mom finally asked bekka if she cut her leg with a razor, bekka confessed and was either grounded, or sentanced to kitchen duty for a week.

9. No bouncing/kicking/throwing the ball in the house, no jumping on the furniture (beds included). "If you break it you buy it" meaning, if you break it, you have to fix it or replace it. Now, this did not apply to dishes that get dropped, or other accidents. But if while kicking the ball in the house it broke a lamp, we had to forfeit our allowance for however long it took to replace the lamp. Or, if while jumping on the couch (or wrestling with friends on the couch as one case has it) and the middle wood pannel breaks, you have to purchase the wood to fix it and fix it (with the help of dad).

10. You can disagree, but there is no need to argue, yell, scream and fight. And if you do, you get to hold hands on the couch with the sibling in which you are fighting with on the couch for a period of time determined by the parent (typically dad), because you love eachother and will learn to be near eachother without hitting eachother. This typically resulted in us wrenching eachother's hands trying to cause as much pain as possible without letting out any sort of noise to let dad know we were still fighting, because that would result in more time on the couch.

Now, it may seem like these people were cruel, but alas, they weren't. They were necessary. As we got older they loosened the reigns a bit (because we were so conditioned and kept the rules naturally). Mom told us they figured if they were strict with us as children (and most of these rules i remember from when i was in elementary school), then they would be able to trust us more as we got to be teenagers. I think, in general, this worked the way they had planned. So if any of you want to implement any of these in your household, i say go ahead.