Swift: Don't eat cookie dough or you'll get worms, and other weird parental rules
You'd better not be reading this in poor light. Or while riding in a car. Or while lying down. These qualify as 'Because I'm the Mom' rules, meaning our parents made these guidelines gospel, even if they weren't backed by science, common sense or logic. Here, columnist Tammy Swift passes along some of the wackiest and most baffling parental rules as shared by her Facebook friends.
FARGO — We all grew up with our share of "mom rules."
Don’t hit your sister. Don’t stare at strangers. Wash your hands after petting the dog.
But what about those “Because I’m the mom,” rules?
These are the rules — sometimes highly eccentric and very specific — that our parents hammered into us as soon as we could understand language.
They weren’t always logical. Or based on science. Or rooted in common sense.
But it didn’t matter. They were the commandments of our homes. If we dared to question them, we’d get the same response: “Because I’m the mom, that’s why.”
In fact, we sometimes became so indoctrinated by those beliefs that we assumed every household had them. Then we grew up, went off to school or work — and innocently mentioned those rules in casual conversation.
It was only then, when we saw the look of bewilderment on other people's faces, that we realized these rules sounded, well, crazy.
My own family had many of these rules. We could never swim for up to an hour after eating a meal, lest we get a cramp. We couldn’t eat watermelon in the house, because mom didn’t want to clean sticky juice off the floor. We couldn’t tickle our little brother, in case we caused him to stutter. We always sat at least 6 feet away from the color TV, because Mom read somewhere it would ruin our eyes. (Actually, 1970s parents were inordinately worried about their kids’ eyeballs: We were constantly hearing how reading in the dark, in the car or while lying down would ruin your vision.)
And it wasn’t until 1984 that I could stand in front of a running microwave without fearing it would make me sterile.
Recently, I decided to invite my Facebook friends to share their own “Because I’m the mom” rules.
Let me just say that after the flurry of responses, I felt reassured. The fact of the matter is that parents sometimes say things that don’t make a lot of sense. But then you realize they’re just doing their best — and trying to raise kids who didn’t wear their pajamas to school, gobble down buckets of raw cookie dough or split open their heads on the coffee table. (And in a few cases, some of these seemingly outrageous momisms turned out to be at least partly true!)
A few of their “Because I’m the mom” highlights:
Always unplug the TV when you go away for the weekend.
Don’t talk on the phone during a storm because you might get electrocuted.
Never eat soup in summer or ice cream in winter.
Never store food in an open tin can in the fridge, or it will get contaminated from the metal.
Don’t ask your dad to turn on the interior light at night when he’s driving; it’s illegal and he could go to jail.
Girls can only chew gum in the privacy of their bedroom with the door closed.
If you have to go to the bathroom, tell Mom you have to go “aah-aah.”
Don’t go beyond the buoys outlining the swimming area or you’ll go down the glory hole.
If you eat your bread crusts, you’ll be a better singer. (In another variation, several friends, girls included, were told bread crusts would put hair on their chests.)
Don’t vacuum barefooted or you’ll get electrocuted.
Turn down the air conditioner in the car; it will save gas.
Don’t drink so much water.
When using the stairs, walk only on the sides of the step. Otherwise, you’ll “wear out” the wood and carpet on the stairs.
Always sleep with the windows open, especially if you’re sick.
Don’t use the phone when it’s raining.
Don’t hit your sister in the chest; it causes cancer.
And my personal favorite: No left turns, as they are “dangerous.” Facebook friend Carol said her mom established this rule while teaching Carol to drive. “Eventually, I asked my dad to teach me,” Carol writes. “He understood it’s kind of necessary to have that option if you actually want to get to your destination.”
Oh, and while you're at it, Carol, don't turn on that interior light.
Tammy Swift can be reached at email@example.com.