Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rules You Never Thought You'd Have to Make

Many years ago, when my stepchildren came to live with us, we hit some glitches. They'd been raised differently than we were raising our daughter, and it seemed like almost every day, something would arise that would stun me (who would ever have thought anyone would think that it was okay to....?) and stun them (who would ever have thought that anyone would object to...?)

The result was a video series--a series of brief "television spots" called "Rules You Never Thought You'd Have to Make, with Tiffany Sanders". All of the kids participated in filming, and I dressed professionally and spoke very seriously as host/narrator. We didn't have the technology back then to put red Xs through the bad scene and some kind of cheery encouragement around the good one, but we did it wrong first, then explained the hazards, then did it right. Very exaggerated. The kids sometimes dressed up for their parts, and everyone laughed a lot. Mission accomplished: the message came through loud and clear and was remembered without a lot of yelling and conflict, and everyone had a good laugh.

I was convinced, back then, that there was simply no way to anticipate everything that might arise, that no matter how many rules you made and how many scenarios you played out in your head, there would always be a surprise...a rule you'd never thought you'd have to make.

Until this week, that is. My daughter's middle-school science class made slime this week, out of glue and water and Borax and I'm not sure what else. And one of the boys in her class raised his hand and said, "Can we taste this?"

And without missing a beat, the teacher said, "You signed a contract at the beginning of the year agreeing not to eat anything we worked with during labs."

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