Don’t bother trying to understand them.  It’s a waste of time.  They don’t make sense.

  • Cartoons, animated or otherwise, were completely banned from the house for a period of time. (I think around the fourth grade until the sixth grade maybe?) This included Arthur and Peanuts. Dad decided that it was either distracting us, making us rowdy, or both, depending on when you threw a fit about it. (I hid a stash of my favorite newspaper comic treasuries in a corner of my closet and would read them in secret. Then later stole the key to the locking attic above the garage, and took everything I could out of there.)

 

  • After the cartoon ban was lifted, shows where the characters didn’t speak nicely to each other were banned instead. So Beast Wars: Transformers was okay, but Pokemon, Yugioh, Winnie the Pooh, and Land Before Timewere not.

 

  • Before the no-cartoons ban was enacted, we were not allowed to watch anything that looked like Anime when Dad was home on weekends, because he didn’t want us watching that “Japanese Crap” with the weird heads. (Which sucked, because I really liked Card Captor Sakura.)

 

  • No TV shows with predominantly black casts were allowed. So no Proud Family, Sister Sister, That’s So Ravenor Fresh Prince. The one exception was Static Shock because it was a superhero show and for whatever reason that made it okay. (Again, this was a Dad rule, but Mom enforced it during the week because if we repeated stuff from Black shows, or asked to watch them, Dad would know she wasn’t enforcing them. This didn’t apply to anime because Dad didn’t know what any of the titles were.)

 

  • When I started high school, Dad fired all the cleaning people. Instead, all of us children were supposed to spend two hours cleaning the house every weekend, before we were allowed to hang out with friends. This sounds reasonable, the chores always took longer than two hours, and whenever you got good enough to get them done and still hang out with friends, Dad would add more to your list. By the time this rule was finally abolished, I was expected to dust every window frame, picture frame (there were well over 100 in the house,) door frame, vase, lamp, and flat surface in the house (including book cases.) Then I had to wash and vacuum the family car.

 

  • We were also expected to take care of our bedrooms, laundry, and our pets (or pets Dad decided were your responsibility) before seeing friends on weekends. Again, this sounds reasonable, until you hear what “take care of your rooms, laundry, and pets” actually meant. Cleaning your room meant putting everything away, taking out the trash, dusting everything including the baseboards, vacuuming, and mopping. You had to wash your sheets, and remake your bed to Dad’s standard. Then, there were six budgies living in my bedroom that officially belonged to my mom but were deemed my responsibility. So I had to clean their cages. And then spend an hour walking the family dog, because apparently that was my responsibility. Sometimes I also had to bathe the dog before I was allowed out. Dad had no idea why I never saw my friends outside of school, because all that and the “two hours” of cleaning every weekend should have only taken me three hours, tops.

 

  • Nobody could watch any show or play any video game that was inappropriate for the youngest kid (Susan) if she was at home. We were also not allowed to talk about those shows/video games ever. Susan was always around, and six years younger than me. (My parents couldn’t understand why I “made myself out to be weird” by behaving so much younger than my actual age and never talking to anybody in my grade about pop culture.)

 

  • No watching anything rated R until you’re 18. Yes, legally you’re allowed to watch R rated content at 17, but not in my house. Oh, and then we were absolutely not allowed to discuss the movie with anybody else ever, lest Susan or Gwen found out we’d gotten to watch it and threw a fit.

 

  • After starting the dishwasher for the night, all remaining dirty dishes need to either be washed by hand or hidden in the oven. Mom usually hides them in the oven.

 

  • Susan wasn’t allowed in the front half of the house until she started high school, but the family dog had free range of the whole building.

 

  • For a short period of time, Dad tried to make the “one hour of screen time a day” rule apply to doing homework on computers too. (Thank GOD Mom shut that one down fast.)

 

  • No downloading anything ever because viruses. The first time I bought a song off of Itunes, it was for school and Mom watched fearfully the entire time because she was sure I was going to brick the computer.

 

  • No saving things on the computer hard drive. It had to be on a separate flash drive, because saving things to the regular hard drive “makes the internet slower.” (I lost all my files several times because of this rule.)

 

  • Sometimes Dad just shut the internet off at 10:30 pm because we should have finished for the night and gone to bed. (The only cable hookup was in his bedroom.) I attended one of the hardest high schools in my state, known for giving out two hours of homework per class. Luckily the public building on the corner across the street from us had free wifi, which I could access from my bedroom and then finish my homework at an albeit much slower pace.

 

  • There must be absolute silence after Dad goes to bed. Do not wake the beast.

 

  • No swearing, including the words “crap” and “God” and “freaking.”

 

  • I had to go on a 7 mile bike ride with Dad before he’d let me go on a play-date from about the 3rd grade until my best friend moved (only person work biking to see) moved and I just stopped hanging out with people. (I was thin and healthy, but I didn’t do an organized sport, so obviously I needed more exercise.)

 

  • For a time, if you picked on a sibling, the victim could either put you in time-out or give you one of their chores that week. (That rule went away because Gwen was incapable of being nice to me, and was going to have to do all my chores for the next two months until she ratted me out to our Dad and he punished me for “taking advantage” of my sister.)

 

  • One particularly awful summer when I was in high school, Dad instituted a 9 am wake-up curfew.

 

  • We weren’t allowed to keep our own money, because then the less-well behaved children might spend it on drugs, or steal from other siblings. So Mom would act as the “bank” and keep a record of how much we’d saved. We could not spend money without asking her first, and she could nix any purchase requests.

 

  • Money would randomly be withdrawn from the “Mom Bank” and deposited in a checking account we couldn’t touch until college. (They weren’t stealing, we did eventually see that money when we started school.) The amount withdrawn, and the frequency, changed regularly. At one point it was 33% of whatever we’d saved per week, but then my brother and I pointed out this meant we basically had to spend money as soon as we got it, otherwise we’d be losing cash.

 

  • Absolutely no sitting in Dad’s black leather chairs. He could tell if somebody else had sat in them. Even if we’d done it hours before he got home. He had no issue with the family dog wiping his eye goobers all over them, though.

 

  • The family dog had to be taken on several hour long walks a day, regardless of the weather. The family dog was only forty pounds, and developed early arthritis probably because of the excessive walking. Mom and I used to either “forget” to walk the dog, or just take him to the train station a block away and hide out there for an hour to avoid exhausting the poor guy.

 

  • If you left anything out in the general house, rather than your room, it was your fault when a sibling took or broke your thing.

 

  • You had to share all your toys if you weren’t using it and the other person asked. The only exception was special sleeping stuffed animals. Or, after Gwen broke something of mine on the first day I got it before I’d even had a chance to play with it, the first day you got a thing.

 

  • If we walked to school by ourselves, we had to carry a walkie talkie and then tell Mom whenever we crossed the two streets between our house and the school. This continued until somebody stole my walkie talkie in junior high.

 

  • If a teacher picked on us, (specifically me) I was to tell mom, but be as absolutely nice to the teacher as possible because if I so much as told them I didn’t like them, they might take that out on my siblings later. So that 5th grade teacher who deliberately didn’t let me treat my blood sugar disorder, and then verbally abused me in front of the class when I started experiencing the symptoms I told her were coming? Yeah, couldn’t even tell her she wasn’t a nice person.

 

  • If a teacher did something, or told me to do something Mom and Dad wouldn’t agree with, I was to basically refuse to comply with orders and throw a tantrum if I had to. (This rule was good in spirit, because I had food allergies and teachers also liked to forget to follow my IEP, so it did protect me in that sense. But it didn’t do me any favors when I refused to do algebra the way the teacher was teaching it because Mom had taught me the right way, and said the teacher’s way was stupid.)

 

  • No purchasing/downloading music unless Mom had previewed and approved of it. I ended up listening to a lot of Irish Folk instrumentals because that always got approved.

 

  • This wasn’t a spoken rule, but we had to learn songs Dad would approve of during piano lessons or he’d discontinue our lessons. He wanted us to learn classical music. None of us liked classical music. I compromised by learning Irish Folk songs on the piano. (Violin translated to piano sounds weeeeeird, btw.)

 

  • I didn’t really mind this rule, because Mom legitimately had a bad allergy to cats. But whenever I came home from babysitting, I had to strip, put all my clothes in a plastic bag, and shower immediately without touching any doors because the family I babysat for owned cats.

 

  • Not overtly spoken, but I had to keep all my things as nice as possible so they weren’t “ruined” when they got passed down to my younger siblings. I also had to pick out coats and boots from the boy’s department until I was fourteen so Shawn wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear my old coats & boots.

 

  • This mostly applied to Shawn, but no having a member of the opposite sex in your room with your door shut. Loud sex in the basement, though, was fine.

 

  • If Shawn wanted to go to Prom, he had to call me at 2 am and talk to me long enough for me to decide if he was drunk. (Shawn suggested this because otherwise Mom and Dad wouldn’t let him go. I agreed to it because otherwise, Mom and Dad weren’t going to let him go.)

 

  • I wasn’t supposed to read “stupid fantasy garbage” when I started high school. I was supposed to read “real” literature, or nonfiction. Preferably older, academic nonfiction like The Odyssey. But nothing with sex in it.

 

  • After my parents found out a certain author mentioned birth control in a single one of her books, I was not allowed to read anything written by her until I either turned 13 or got my period. They were not happy when I got my period at 12 and demanded to be given all my books back.

 

  • Everything we read or watched had to be previewed by Mom first. When I played Pokemon Chrystal for the first time, she sat next to me and asked me lots of questions about what was going on, was it bad, and did it scare me. I was a 5th grader.

 

  • I was not allowed to own a dollhouse because dollhouses are for spoiled rich kids. (Gwen owned two.)

 

  • No toys with tattoos on them. When Dad accidentally got Susan a barbie with tattoos on it, we all had to pretend they were Barbie’s “tights” and Susan was not allowed to let that Barbie be naked from the waist down.