With my daughter about to become a teenager, this column by Bruce Cameron (the man behind “8 Simple Rules”) put a smile on my face. With his permission, I’m reprinting it here:
From a sign I recently posted to my teenage daughter’s bedroom door:
Welcome to your room! Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these instructions, which, like all of your father’s rules, are designed to make your stay in his house comfortable and less inconvenient to his life.
Room Access: When you first enter the room, you’ll notice that you’ll have some trouble pushing the door into its fully open position. This is because you’ve elected to ignore the drawers and closet space provided for you, instead organizing all of your clothing in large heaps on the floor. I’ve given up trying to change your ways, so I’ve decided to make the best of the situation and assign your bedroom as sleeping space for our new puppy, who has proven so difficult to housebreak. Yours is the only room in the house where I can be reasonably sure it won’t ruin the carpet.
Maid Service: Please note that we do not provide maid service for you, and even if we did I’m not sure a maid would be up to the task of making your bed. Your covers appear to have been run through a tree shredder–how you manage to sleep underneath what looks like a beaver dam is anybody’s guess. Apparently you don’t have enough time in the mornings to straighten your blankets, so I’ve decided to get you up each morning a full fifteen minutes earlier than the day before, until we find an hour that affords you the opportunity to address the situation. This will continue as unbroken process until I am waking you up before you’ve even gone to bed. If you think I’m bluffing, you probably don’t remember that when you were a baby, you woke me up at four thirty every single morning for a year.
Bathroom: Speaking of mornings, you and your teenage sister have been playing out the same drama over the bathroom every weekday for as long as I can remember. It’s a longer-running show than Cats, and it always climaxes with one of you standing in the hallway and screaming at the other. To preclude even one more encore presentation of “I Need To Use The Bathroom You’ve Been In There An Hour Hurry Up You’re Making Me Late,” I’ve done something rather innovative to the bathroom door: I’ve removed it.
Guests: Your room is your “property,” as you often state, to the same extent as your contribution to the house payment, which is to say, zero percent. Still, you can have anyone you want in your room, as long as the person doesn’t have any personality defects, such as “male.”
Curfew: We have, by my calculations, spent over two hundred man hours arguing about curfew, which I always want to be “early” and you prefer to be “never.” The whole exercise was, in my opinion, a real waste of breath, since you ignore the rules anyway. Apparently–and I cannot fault your logic here–you believe that if you just stay out late enough, I’ll fall asleep and you can claim you were home in time and didn’t want to wake me. To resolve this matter, when you’re out on a date, I’ll stretch out in your bed and wait for you to return. If I fall asleep, I imagine you’ll decide it’s okay to wake me up when you get home.
Incense: Recently you’ve taken to filling the atmosphere with strawberry-flavored pollution. Unfortunately, as is true with the music you listen to, the walls of your room don’t prevent your tastes from leaking out into other people’s senses. In fact, it sounds and smells as if the band has been playing so loudly they’ve set their instruments on fire. This is why I’ve put an exhaust fan in your room with the on/off switch in mine.
Of course, there is a more simple way to handle this: You’re of legal age, now, you could just move out. I suppose it’s inevitable that you’re going to be doing so anyway. And then these rules will be unnecessary. Yet somehow I don’t think I’ll be happier; after nearly two decades of living with you, I sort of like having you around.
Copyright 2007, W. Bruce Cameron.