We have rules in our house.
Of course we do. Our rules range from the Set in Stone kind -- the THOU MUST BRUSHEST THY TEETH TWICE A DAY and LOOKETH BEFORE YOU CROSSETH THE STREET rules -- to the Mostly Unspoken variety, which are intended to insure we do not spend the majority of our maturity alone in some sad hermitage. These rules are usually whispered in question form and colored with a hint of disgust for emphasis: "pssssssst: must I continually tell you to flusheth the commode?)"
While most of these rules are proactive -- Get dressed before breakfast; Wipe your feet before entering the house; Feed the cats BEFORE they find a new family -- they also include a growing list of reactive commands. Don't slam doors! Don't pinch your sister! Don't make that face! These rules are designed to show disapproval for choices that come into direct conflict with our ability to hear ourselves think.
We are not, as they say, a Democracy.
My husband – the one among us with the shortest temper and loudest voice – doesn't want to be The Heavy. He doesn't want the job of Head of Household.
But someone has to do it. We play Rock, Paper, Scissors for the role of The Fun Guy twice weekly. He usually wins. (I think he cheats).
That job, therefore, falls to me.
But that's not my point. Exactly.
As the enforcer of The Rules and their corresponding sanctions, I strangely find myself preferring total (albeit benevolent) authority to a representative democracy.
This system of governance, after all, is proprietary. And of it, I feel somewhat protective since I have created this tiny empire out of thin air to incorporate the six main components of modern life: necessity, fortitude, love, forgiveness, screen time and snack foods. Glitter is an optional seventh, but until vacuum cleaners meet some regulatory standard currently not in place ... we shall outlaw recreational usage.
Who am I kidding?
It's just easier to be The Decider if you aren't stuck in committee.
Which is where we find ourselves when the bubble on this little fiefdom (The Royal) We have established was pricked by the pin of a separate governing agency: Elementary School.
Note from school:
"To the parents of Child No. 2.061907.C09
Your darling child had occasion to visit our infirmary today after an incident on the ground where post-dietary recreational education commences. Somehow during the quarter-hour of supervised activity, the aforementioned child suffered a kick to the abdominal region near the right hip, anterior side.
Ice was applied.
Efforts to extract cause of this injury were unsuccessful, though your child and Child (NUMBER REDACTED) were referred to the Vice Principal for clarification. Anything further inquiry and notifications will be forthcoming from that office.
Did Child No. 2.061907.C09 give me this note, you wonder?
Of course not.
It was extracted, along with three crusts of bread, a candy wrapper and seven rubber Superballs, from the bottom of his backpack as I was checking for unfinished homework.
"Oh ... yeah. I forgot about that. I've never been to the principal's office before. It's nice there."
"So ... what happened?"
"It was just an accident. My friend and I were jumping around some girls, and one of them kicked me in the stomach. Nobody meant any harm. Do you think my appendix will burst?"
Now ... since I don't have Child (No. Redacted)'s side of the story, I must be her advocate.
"So ... you do realize that when someone says "Stop" you have to stop? Right? It's like the tickle game. ... it's not always fun even when a person is laughing."
"I suppose," but I think it was just an accident.
"Maybe you should ask and be sure. You might have been frightening the girls, or at least annoying them to the point of frustration."
He lifts his shoulders and tips his head as if something he hadn't considered a possibility was now weighing on him.
"I guess, now that I think about it, the vice principal's office is the last place I should get comfortable."
Right. Because if that happens, I'm going to have to figure out the over/under on your dad's Rock, Paper, Scissors fix.