Dr. No

It's far too late at night for me to be awake, but here I am, in our beautifully clean and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle free kitchen (I've had a late night spontaneous cleaning moment), enjoying the piece and quiet. Lyall and Richard, for the first time since they joined us back in March have gone to stay with Grandma and Grandpa at their lovely house in Warwickshire for the weekend. A whole weekend at home on our own. Wonderful.

Following the fabulous news about the adoption order last week, Tom and I, in a delirium of happiness (and freedom) have popped out for an ASK pizza, polished off a bottle of french bubbly, scoffed a plate of left over Quorn nuggets (half a syn each for the benefit of my Slimming World friends), shared a can of lager from the back of the fridge and watched 2 episodes of Family Guy. Tom's gone up to bed and I'm now sitting at the kitchen table, wondering if this level of silence ever existed before - I can even hear the fridge whirring. Must ask Tom to sort that out.

So. I thought I should talk a little about 'boys and boundaries'. Frankly a serious topic, for me, but, like the textbooks suggest; get the boundaries and rules set up correctly and everything else should slip nicely into place like a well aligned turn on a game of Downfall. (Speaking of which, what the hell has Hasbro done to lovely old Downfall? Hating the new version). Don't worry, I'll try to keep this one short.

We have two sets of rules. Our fluffy House rules, and (un-written) No rules. Our House rules belong on a poster on our fridge. They go something like this:

  • Say please and thank you
  • Footballs outside
  • Clean up after yourself
  • Sing out loud
  • Always tell the truth
  • Try everything once
  • Never give up
  • Love each other

I must say, the singing out loud rule is bloody marvellous; providing a fantastic solution to the eternal question, "What can I do next, Daddy?" as, in reply, I patronisingly tap the house rules on the fridge with my finger and say "Sing out loud", which occasionally rewards me with a lovely high pitched rendition of Tenacious D's Wonderboy or Baa Baa Black Sheep.

Our unwritten rules that we've adopted are No rules, which we've gradually added to as and when things get smashed, heads get bashed and fingers get squashed in doors. The No rules currently look a bit like this.

  • No swinging on door handles
  • No throwing toys at/out of windows
  • No hitting, biting, kicking, pulling hair, pinching, bending fingers back until they make a disgusting crunching sound, making your eyes go right up inside your eyelids so that you look like you're having a seizure, pulling ears, slamming the toy box door on the other's head, using wooden train track like a policeman's baton, poking eyes
  • No unconsenting donkey rides - nobody wants to ride on a screaming pony
  • No pulling leaves off Daddy's plants
  • No lifting up the heavy sofa to see what's underneath
  • No dribbling foamy toothpaste onto the bathroom floor
  • No shouting or roaring like a zombie every morning to surprise Daddy while he's asleep or carrying a hot cup of coffee
  • No touching Dad's expensive camera
  • No putting anything inside the Mr Bump cushion (car keys, Daddy's favourite biro, marbles etc)
  • No hiding half chewed pieces of food beneath the fruit bowl
  • No shoes on Dad's one thousand pounds carpet; it will take you precisely two thousand weeks to save up your pocket money to replace it
  • No hiding the remote control or Dad's car keys
  • No licking the french windows
  • No climbing up bookshelves to reach the confiscated paraplegic Ninja Turtle on the top shelf
  • No putting anything around your neck
  • No hiding under the bed two minutes before we go out, every time we are about to leave the house

That's pretty much the comprehensive list. Naturally, almost everything a four and five year old boy does is on the No list, leaving Daddy and Dad in a kind of groundhog day of naysaying. But, by sticking to the above rules and saying no quite a lot, we have achieved two fairly well behaved and loyal little boys. Minor difficulties arise when we are in the company of the boys' friends or other parents who, quite rightly and for reasons of their own have a completely different list of No rules; or manage nicely without rules, thank you very much. This unfortunately puts our boys into a kind of hedonistic limbo with an abundance of footballs aimed at heads and menacing donkey rides. The rules are also tested every time we have adult visitors (something that our lovely social worker will testify to, having experienced first hand), when the boys will incessantly pester me for Play-doh, cups of coffee and unsuitable films that they would never be allowed to watch anyway. "No, Lyall you can't watch The Mummy while playing on Play-doh with the curtains closed".