On the eve of my boys’ first day of school last year, I gave them a bathtime tutorial on School Rules. I made it up as I went along, as I do with most teachable moments, and I’d say I pretty much nailed it since I didn’t end up answering questions about how babies are made, what happens after we die, or why bad people kill good people with guns.
A year later, a few inches taller, a few pounds heavier, and a few teeth less (I’m talking about the kids here), I’ve realized there’s legitimacy to the saying, The more things change, the more they stay the same. In other words, some school rules – be nice, be a good friend, be a good listener, bah blah blah – are timeless and always useful. On the contrary, other school rules are timely. For example, one of last year’s rules – Don’t try to get your teacher’s attention by tapping her boobs – was relevant at the time (actually, it’s still applicable), but I hope it will become less and less necessary, or less and less useful, as my young and impressionable (and gross) little boys mature. (That will happen, right?)
After spending oodles and oodles (and oodles and oodles) (and oodles and bleeping oodles) of carefree and unstructured time with my boys over the last several weeks of summer, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of new and, God willing, temporary school rules:
- Whistling is a wonderful talent and an impressive skill, but you musn’t whistle while you work. Not at school. It will drive your teacher and classmates bananas. Save it for recess. Better yet, save it for when you’re in the bathroom all by yourself. Speaking of which…
- The only place where it’s appropriate to pee is indoors (i.e. not on a tree on the playground). In the toilet (i.e. not on the floor around the toilet). With the door closed (i.e. without an audience). As long as we’re talking about pee…
- Knock knock jokes that end with “pee,” “poopy pants,” or “underwear” are only funny to you. As long as we’re talking about underwear…
- Private parts are private. (Seriously.)
- Showing your middle finger is not an appropriate method of communication.
- Don’t ask your teacher if she has a penis. She’s a girl just like me, and I’m assuming she doesn’t have one. (Don’t ask me why I’m assuming this.) While we’re on the subject, yes, she can still pee even though she doesn’t have a penis. Don’t ask her about it.
- Don’t talk about your testicles. I take great pride in having taught you the anatomically correct names of all of your body parts, but there is a time and place, buddy.
Editor’s note: These next three rules could also be condensed into one rule that goes something like this: “Don’t speak. Ever.”
- It’s not nice to call someone penis-breath or say, “What are you looking at, butthead?” Yes, you learned these regrettable but fun to repeat one-liners from movies that Daddy and I chose for us to watch on family movie nights (“E.T.” and “Back To The Future”), but we both know that if someone called you penis-breath, you’d cry like a baby.
- At lunch, don’t ask your teacher for a beer. Or a glass of wine, for that matter. Yes, Daddy and I drink these alcoholic beverages at home occasionally a lot, but we’re adults and we can make those choices for ourselves. Someday, when you’re all grown up and it hits you that you don’t understand your child’s first grade math homework, you’ll probably want need a stiff drink, too.
- As long as we’re on the topic of drugs and alcohol and making grownup choices, don’t ask your friends if they want to smoke cigarettes. It’s not funny, and saying it makes Daddy and me look like assholes (don’t say that word either), so cut it out for real life. Ever since you unveiled this zinger to us at dinner a few weeks ago (and after the smelling salts jolted me from unconsciousness and I regained the ability to breathe, blink and speak), I’ve explained to you on a daily basis (because you bring it up every single day) that smoking cigarettes is very, very unhealthy and a very, very bad choice to make.
- Last but not least… Have fun! This school thing isn’t a passing fad. You’ll be doing it for the next fifteen years or so (that is, if we can afford to send you to college), so make it work. Just don’t whistle a happy tune about it.
That’s all folks!
Feel free to add additional new school rules in the comments.