One day I came home from work and noticed wax drips across the kitchen floor. As a Nervous & Annoyed parent with a special talent for imagining undesirable outcomes, this raised many, many questions in my mind about what our middle-schoolers were up to with a sitter in the house.
After several experiences with sitters who demonstrated a diverse range of judgments, we came around to the realization that very specific directions are often required.
Our pet term for this is “programming the robot”, because, well, we discovered no amount of direction is too much.
One day I came home from work and noticed drips of wax across the kitchen floor. As a Nervous & Annoyed parent with a special talent for imagining undesirable outcomes, this raised many, many questions in my mind.
What open-flame burning, deduced from the evidence of wax drips on the floor moving across our kitchen, was performed by our kids with a sitter in the house?
I asked the sitter, who said our oldest (a middle-schooler) lit a candle for some reason. She wasn’t sure why.
Lit a candle?
And carried it across the kitchen?
As I held together the exploding bits of my head, I told our sitter that the kids really should NOT be PLAYING WITH FIRE. And immediately I realized that if something that basic - which I had assumed was just common sense - required explanation, then a number of other similar activities would also need clear delineation to this sitter, and to our kids.
And so the following list was born, which may be helpful to other parents looking to cover all potentialities.
Feel free to add anything which may have been overlooked.
The Top 10 Things Our Kids are Not Allowed to Do:
1. Play with Fire (includes matches, lighters, prisms and magnifying glasses + beams of sun, & lasers).
2. Let strangers into the house.
3. Take rides with strangers.
4. Hurt anyone, or themselves.
5. Endanger anyone, or themselves. This includes but is not limited to:
a. Run with scissors, knives or other sharp implements.
b. Play with chainsaws or any other power tool (electric or gas powered).
c. Climb on ladders.
d. Climb onto the roof.
e. Climb or jump out of windows.
f. Play with electricity or electrical circuits.
g. Play with Natural Gas or gas lines.
h. Fool around in or near a pool or other water sources; pretend to drown or try to drown another.
i. Play in the street, near the street or slide down large piles of snow into the street.
j. Smoke cigarettes or anything else.
k. Do drugs.
l. Use hypodermic needles.
m. Drink or eating poisons or non-food/drink items (no drinking gasoline, for instance)
n. Drink or touching alcohol.
o. Touch or trying prescription medicines.
p. Use the stove or oven unsupervised.
q. Poke eyes or ears, genitalia, or orifices with sharp or other implements.
r. Put beans or any small objects into nostrils, ears, orifices, or genitalia.
s. Stand near active volcanos or fault lines.
t. Attempt to reduce the oxygen intake of oneself or another in any way.
u. Choke, punch, stab, wrestle, or jab another.
v. Use or throw darts.
w. Use phaser or stun guns.
x. Use weapons of any kind knives, guns, javelins, etc.
y. Use radioactive materials of any type.
z. Inhale noxious fumes of any type.
aa. Any combination of a- z above.
6. Give out personal information of any kind to inquiring strangers (ages, gender of children, parents’ whereabouts, income, investments, passwords, passports or social security numbers).
7. Ruin anything. This includes cutting clothes, bed linens, drapes, curtains or towels, or disfiguring possessions of any type (ruining photos of younger brother sitting with Santa Claus, for example)*.
8. Review or exploit any personal files whatsoever.
9. Go into parents’ bedroom when parents are not at home.
10. No permanent tattooing.
11. No gnawing off any limbs (one’s own or another’s).
*too late as this had already occurred, but included in the interest of covering all bases.