My House, Your Kids: Whose Mama Rules?
When Someone Else's Children Are Under Your Roof: Your Rules Rule
A little while ago, I was at a party where children were invited. It was held on the rooftop of a beachfront building, with a staircase to an observation deck. At one point, a six year old was scampering up and down the stairs--unsupervised, as his mother was enjoying drinks with her colleagues at the other end of the roof--and smaller children were attempting to follow him.
I told him he needed to stop so nobody got hurt. His answer: "I don't have to. You're not my mother."
"You are so very correct," I told him, "because if I were your mother, you'd have known enough to stop when I told you to." And, I thought to myself, you'd not be sitting comfortably for a good long while.
I contented myself with informing his mother she might want to make sure he didn't pitch himself off the roof and considered my responsibility ended.
That rooftop party was not held at my home, otherwise I would have gone over to his mother and told her "we don't run up and down the stairs here, it's not safe. Please rein Thaddeus in before he gets hurt."
Usually, when visiting children do something the household doesn't allow (teasing the dog, bounching a dirty ball against the wall, not cleaning up after playtime, etc.) the house's resident child says something like "my mom makes us take our dishes out of the den after we finish our snacks," or "don't tease the dog like that; it's mean." Or even "dude, even if you did sneak an X-rated movie out of the house, do you know what will happen if my parents catching us watching it?"
Fear Of Mom's Rules is a good thing.
It still exists in our community, thanks to our continuing belief in (and gratitude to) the village that helps to raise our children. But I've discovered over the years, that's not universal to everyone's culture.
How do YOU transmit the household rules to young visitors--and what do you do when they're broken? Holla in the comments section below, or share a longer story with us at AskComeCorrect@gmail.com. We'll share the best ones (unless you ask us not to) at the end of the week.
Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday)