Just like people, every family is unique—including their house rules. No elbows on the table is one thing, but the strange rules that some families follow can really throw visitors off. Why is there a room you can’t enter? Am I really only allowed to use one cup a day? Learn about some of the strange house rules some people had growing up—you’d be surprised at what other people’s “normal” was.
1. Council Is in Session
We had a “family council” every Sunday night after dinner. We would sit and say good things that happened that week, share our grievances if we had any—we always did—make a dinner menu, and assign chores. Frankly, it was stellar parenting. Though, if I mention it to my mother now, she will brag about it for a solid 20 minutes before we can move on.
2. No Rolls at Dinner for You
It was at my friend’s house. I was explicitly asked not to eat the toilet paper. It was fine though. I ate some before I went.
3. The Fart Room
When I lived with my grandmother, nobody was allowed to fart. Ever. It got to a point where one would drop a napkin on the floor and lean down to pick it up, then accidentally let one rip. My grandma would look at you as if you pooped on the floor. After a while, she picked a room in the house and designated it as the “fart room.”
If you had to pass gas, you got up from where you were and walked to the room to let loose.
4. Chewed Up
I had SUPER laid back parents but there were a few certain things that they were randomly crazy strict about. No gum. No Play-Doh. No cereal with sugar as one of the top three ingredients. No Simpsons. I had basically no rules growing up, but those four things would make them lose their minds. I still get anxious when I’m chewing gum and I’m 35.
5. Early Riser
At my grandmother’s house, everyone has to be up before my grandmother—meaning everyone has to be up and ready by 8:00 AM. I just stay in hotels now. I like my sleep during vacations.
6. The Best Thing About Sliced Bread
No fighting over the heel of the bread. The father once off-handedly told his oldest children that the heel of a loaf of bread was the best and made them want it instead of the regular pieces. By the time there were four kids in the house, sometimes fistfights would break out over the heels. Loaves had been opened on both sides or loaves were a mess because someone reached through the sack and pulled the back heel out.
For a while, there was a turn system where the heels were promised to a child for each loaf, but that fell apart when one went to summer camp and lost their turn. Honestly, they really went to disturbing lengths. One time my friend wasted an afternoon waiting for his mother to come home with a fresh loaf of bread instead of going out and playing.
I witnessed fistfights over the bread most people throw away.
7. Find the Whistleblower
Whistling was a sign of communication, not something one did idly. The rule was pretty much only enforced by my dad. If I whistled a tune, he’d come running yelling, “What? What is it? What do you want?” even if I whistled a song of any kind. The whistle signal was pretty simple, and pretty much meant “Come here, so I can talk to you.”
I always thought it was weird.
8. If It Hurts You, Let It Go
If I got hurt doing a certain activity, I wasn’t allowed to do that activity again. My mother ended that rule though when I broke my wrist snowboarding when I was 16 and didn’t tell her until a month later when I couldn’t move my wrist at all and it required surgery with a bone graft to repair.
9. Mandated Fresh Air
When I was a kid, I was best friends with a guy from the Philippines. His mum was kind of strict so we could only play on his Sega MegaDrive for 30 minutes at a time. As soon as the 30 minutes were up, his mum would come and literally push us into the garden to play outside like dogs. We then had to play outside for two hours before we were allowed to come back in for another 30 minutes of MegaDrive.
She would lock the door so we couldn’t come back inside even if we wanted. Safe to say I pooped myself more than once at Johnny’s house.
10. Now Repeat After Me
In college, I had a friend that lived with his grandparents when he went to school. Before they’d let him leave the house his grandmother would say “nothing good happens after midnight” and he would have to repeat it.
If I was there, I would also have to repeat the phrase.
11. Into the Woods
If a guest happens to bring the kids candy, the two non-diabetic ones have to run and eat it in the woods so the diabetic one can’t see them eating it.
12. Please Hold
The cellphone given to me was for emergencies only. I understood that. The rule was followed by, “Leave it turned off until you need it.” Okay, mom, I’m being assaulted and I’ll be able to stop the assaulter, “Oh hey man, wait a second, I gotta turn my phone on. This’ll take a few minutes and then I’m gonna call 9-1-1. You cool with this? Thanks! You’re a peach!”
13. Ask and You Shall Receive
We weren’t allowed to eat anything without first asking. Even a glass of water, we were required to ask first. When my boyfriend and I started dating, I would ask his parents if I could eat or drink something if I was hungry or thirsty and it was a hard habit to break when his mom told me I could literally eat or drink anything—other than the alcohol.
It was so weird to just go into the fridge or pantry without permission. I sometimes have to fight the urge to ask my boyfriend if I can eat OUR food in OUR apartment. When I went to my parent’s house over Christmas, I was reprimanded for getting an apple without asking first. It’s just all so weird but it used to be so normal.
14. No-Fly Zone
If a fly gets in because I held the door open too long, I was the one who had to kill it.
15. Down to the Last Drop
I slept over a friend’s house in grade school one time. He prepared us a bowl of cereal the next morning for breakfast. Not thinking ANYTHING about my behavior, I didn’t finish the milk. I just never used to. I don’t know. He was like, “You gonna finish that?” I replied: “Uhhh oh…I uh…I don’t think so? Does that matter?” He panicked. Absolutely panicked.
I think he put it down the toilet before his parents came back into the room. I don’t know what the rule was, exactly, but FINISH YOUR MILK OR DIE would be my guess based on his reaction. I still feel bad about it. I was like 8 and didn’t think.
16. Nothing Exciting
No glitter. No reading Harry Potter. No celebrating Halloween. No watching Lizzie McGuire. No saying, “Oh my God.”
17. Always Fresh out of the Oven
I come from a large family. Any time we’d order pizza, we ordered a few different kinds because, obviously, there were different preferences. Any leftovers were left in their respective boxes and placed in the oven. I did that when I lived with a couple of roommates and, of course, their reaction was: “I just burned this box. Why was this in the oven?”
18. (N)ot the (S)ecurity (A)gency
Back in high school, I had to work on a school project with my lab partner and when I was over at her house, her mom told me I had to let her look at the Internet history on my computer when I brought it over to work. Never told me why either and obviously I didn’t let her, so she called my mom trying to get me in trouble after that.
15 minutes later, my mom picked me up and told the mother she had no authority doing that and that she should mind her own business.
19. Bursting Your Bubble
When I was a kid, I spent the night at one of my friend’s house. And you were allowed to drink a soda before bed. But you had to stir it until all the carbonation was gone. Don’t ask me why.
20. If Lightning Strikes
No talking on the phone during a lightning storm. Mom was convinced it would travel down the wire and zap us. She kept this up when we bought the first cordless. Oh, Mom.
21. Not All Sinks Are Created Equal
Not mine, but my mother-in-law and her sister will fuss at you if you wash your hands in the kitchen sink. I think that’s weird. If there’s a sink and some hand soap, I say wash away. My wife isn’t like that.
22. The Goliath in the Room
This kid’s mom wouldn’t let me and another friend go inside the house until we admitted that Jesus Christ was our lord and savior. After that, she stood up on a milk crate to show us all how tall Goliath was.
23. Soda Extremists
I had a friend in middle school and his dad worked for Pepsi. No one was allowed to bring any Coke products into the house. The first time I went there his mom told me I could not come into the house because I had a Dr. Pepper. I thought she was joking and tried to walk in, but stopped me and said that if I don’t throw that in the garbage outside that I would have to leave.
They were really serious about that stuff.
24. Look, Don’t Touch
“No touching the walls!” After being in other people’s houses and seeing dirty hand-prints on the walls, I can see why my mom enforced this rule so strongly.
25. Sharing Is Caring
Any of the kids (seven of us) can play with any toy that is left out. The owner of the toy can’t take it back until whoever’s playing with it is done. If the toy is put away in the owner’s room, permission must be asked.
26. You Must Come In!
I lived with an aunt of mine for a year and she had a rule that anyone coming to the house to see you had to come inside. No matter how long or short their visit or if you wanted to hang out outside, they had to come in and sit down. It was extremely awkward in one instance when a guy I was seeing stopped by. We were not on good terms and he popped up.
I went outside to talk to him and also tell him to leave. In no way did I want him to come inside and sit down, yet my aunt burst through the front doors inviting him inside and saying she doesn’t like for people to idle in her driveway and he should come in. He didn’t want to come in either but she was very forceful and he wanted to be respectful and so we sat on the couch in awkward tension.
My aunt then happily offered refreshments to us—two people who were clearly arguing.
27. Feline Stuffy
During college years, I used to visit my friend during the summer months at his parents’ house where he lived at that time. They had two odd “house rules” I’ll never forget. We couldn’t open any window in the house, even the bathroom window, ever! Even if it was far cooler outside than inside during the summer. We also weren’t allowed to close our bedroom doors at night, so that his parents’ cat could have free access to all rooms at all times.
This made it difficult to sleep, without a breath of air from the windows, and the cat walking over us in bed while trying to sleep.
28. Be Quiet, But Stressfully
Neither my brother or I were allowed to say “Shut up.” It was considered profanity. I was probably nine at the time. Instead, we had to say “Please be quiet.” Do you know the frustration involved when the two of you are fighting and you have to yell “Just…just PLEASE BE QUIET!” I used to cry I got so frustrated. One year I cried so much my mom offered to give me a quarter for every day I didn’t cry.
I think I had maybe nine quarters by the end of the year. Enough to buy two bags of chips out of the vending machine.
29. Search for Sugar Bugs
My parents would check my and my brother’s teeth for “sugar bugs” every night after we brushed our teeth before we got in bed. If they thought we were trying to skip brushing our teeth they would tell us they could see the sugar bugs in our teeth and would make us go brush again. My brother and I were so convinced these sugar bugs were real we would constantly ask when we’d be able to see them and my parents always told us only people 13 and older could see them.
By the time we got to be 13, we had completely forgotten about the sugar bugs in our teeth. I love thinking about creative parenting tactics like this, I’ve even used that one while babysitting a fussy kid who doesn’t want to brush their teeth/get ready for bed and it helps a lot.
30. Program Unresponsive
I went with my son to visit the family of one of his friends. They invited us. I didn’t just drop by. Father was around my age and I knew him a bit from seeing him where he worked. Anyway, things are going fairly well and pretty much mid-sentence, he stops talking and leans back in his chair just stares off into space. Dead silence and I get no response from him.
Thought he might be having a seizure of some sort but then I learned the disturbing truth when his wife came in and informed me that that is the signal that the visit is over and we have to leave now. My son confirmed that this is a regular occurrence at the house when people have been over.
31. Daily Limit Reached
Not to play video games at my 16-year-old friend’s house because he has already had his hour of game time for the week.
32. Served by Hand
Not so much a rule, but a weird thing. My mother-in-law had an aunt who was a self-proclaimed “hand dipper.” When you ate a meal at her house, she used her hand to scoop up a portion and put it on your plate. It could be mac n cheese, a casserole, whatever.
33. Not Your Spot
The five-minute rule. If you leave your spot on the couch for more than five minutes, someone can take it.
34. Naked Leather
Bare skin was not allowed to touch the leather sofa. No shorts, bare feet, tank tops, etc. Also, we had to peel mushrooms. It took forever and was completely stupid.
35. Greyhound Rules
Before I was in love with the greyhound breed, I went to a friend’s house and she had a greyhound. The house rule was that if the greyhound jumped up onto the couch, you were to spend at least five minutes petting it or rubbing its belly. I was perfectly ok with this rule and understand completely why it was a rule. Greyhounds are adorable.
36. Formally Invited
When I was about 15, I was invited over to my friend’s house. The house rule was that no one spoke during dinner and it’s not like they watched TV or something. Dead silence. When they did communicate it was so formal, like “Can you please pass me the salt,” then silence again. Suffice to say it was the most awkward dinner I’ve ever experienced, and I no longer went over for dinner.
37. Spare a Square…or a Song
If you ever ran out of toilet paper whilst on the toilet, you had to sing the “Stranded” song or else no one else in the house would bring you a roll.
38. Tooth Breakers
I started dated a man many moons ago and one day, I came out of his bathroom whilst still brushing my teeth. His reaction made my blood run cold. He was horrified and yelled, “NO. You don’t do this in the kitchen!” That was the dreaded moment that I decided this relationship is doomed.
39. A Mother Only Knows
My friend’s mother doesn’t let me go on my phone unless it’s my mom. Literally it was my dad calling me from states away just wanting to check in on me with the time he had and she snatched it out of my hands and put it in the cupboard.
40. Cat Food
They yelled at me for not letting the cat that was walking around on the table eat from my plate. I love cats, but what? Apparently gently nudging the cat away from my food was “interfering with the freedom of another sentient being.” I was 12, I think. I was pretty freaked out.
41. The First Best Thing Ever
There was no sliced bread in the house. Like my parents were perfectly normal in every other sense. But I think my mom assumed the uncut bakery bread at the grocery store was better quality or healthier or something? Anyway, I remember going to a friend’s house at like 13 years old and making a sandwich with pre-sliced bread! It was awesome! So much easier!
My friend and her family laughed at my revelation, but I’m not kidding, it was a game-changer. I’d been cutting my own slices for years and they were always slightly uneven and it made making sandwiches or having a piece of bread a bit of a pain. I went home and immediately demanded sliced bread. It took a bit of convincing but eventually, my mom caved to my demands.
To this day my parents still prefer unsliced bread but whenever I visit my mom will go to the store and buy a sliced loaf just for me.
42. Foreign Laws
At my friend Amanda’s house you couldn’t say “suck” because her much older sister—like in her 20s—didn’t approve. As a kid, I thought it very odd that her older sister would “parent” her and her friends but she didn’t seem to care—but that wasn’t the worst part. Friends also weren’t allowed to use the bathroom. I nearly peed myself but I lived next door. I felt really bad for any kids who lived further away.
At my friend Bev’s house there were never ever towels in the bathroom. I always shook my hands dry or wiped them on my pants. I wonder if they just didn’t wash their hands? At the Browns’ house, you weren’t allowed to swim in their pool unless you happen to take swim lessons from their specific swim teacher in the next town over.
My friend babysat for some kids who over the summer were A. not allowed in the house and B. not allowed to get dirty. They’re kids, for heaven’s sake. I’ve babysat plenty of kids who were allowed to watch as much TV as they would like but were not allowed to watch TV when a babysitter was there. So, they would spend the entire time I was there whining about not getting to watch TV.
In my friend’s house, you were only ever allowed to drink water. No juice, no beer, no milk. Water. Even if you took your own drink to her house, you had to drink water.
44. Unspoken Rules
The rule was to leave the porch light on until everyone was home. After I moved out and lived with my boyfriend, I remember getting angry with him for not leaving the porch light on when he knew I would be home late. His response was pretty much, “but you didn’t ask me to.” Also, don’t eat the last of something without first asking if anyone else wants any.
Same boyfriend, the poor guy, ate the last of the cookies. I was so mad that he didn’t ask if I wanted any. This was the first time either of us lived away from our parents, so we had a lot of “Wait…your family doesn’t do this!?” conversations.
45. Squawking Hospitality
Don’t have your phone in your hand if the parrot is out. That jerk would attack you if you even tried. You’d have to go to the bathroom or step outside for a call or text. My husband’s grandma is 93 years old and takes her hosting duties very seriously. When we come to visit, she makes these huge spreads that are glorious and uses every fancy dish she owns for it.
She lives in an old German house without a dishwasher. I’ve been told explicitly to never do the dishes after. She’s 93! I feel bad but she gets upset if she doesn’t get to take care of everything.
46. Not in This Lifetime
In college, my roommates and I had a rule of “No Lifetime,” which meant the television could never be on the Lifetime channel. Another roommate had a girlfriend that would stay over a lot and would sometimes change the channel to Lifetime. If one of us walked through the room and saw it, we just turned the TV off and said “No Lifetime” even if we were leaving.
We didn’t really like her and it showed, but the rule survived in every house I have lived in since then, though I’ll let my girlfriend do it as long as I’m not in the room. Honestly, it started as a joke but snowballed into a very intense rule. When I was living with my ex years ago, she had a friend over and they were watching TV and her friend changed it to Lifetime and I remember my girlfriend yell “NO LIFETIME!”
That was the point I realized I had won.
47. A Proper Greeting
I had to answer the phone, “Hello, this is first-name last-name speaking” whenever I answered the phone. This is obviously in the 80s before caller ID on landlines. My mom tried to make my childhood friends do it too when they called me to play. As in: “Hi!” “Who is this?” “It’s friend.” “Well, friend, when you call this house and I answer the phone, you should say hello to me and then tell me that it’s you, your first name and last name, before you ask to talk to my son.”
Boy, was I popular.
48. Smash Responsibly
If you are angry, frustrated or upset, and want to break something, there were, surprisingly, dos and don’ts to it. First, do not break computers, electronic equipment, anything with a screen, etc., or anything that is irreplaceable, has sentimental value, or costs more than about 50 pounds, or is a personal item belonging to another person.
Second, make sure you give adequate warning to avoid unnecessary alarm and clear the area to avoid hitting anyone. Third, clear up after yourself. Within these rules—which were written on the refrigerator door, along with some other strange rules—you were allowed to smash, break and throw things. Y’now, if you needed to, if you felt the urge.
A bad day? “Excuse me, I’m going to throw a plate at the wall. Tabitha, mind out of the way. SMASH!!! There, that’s better. Now, I’ll just go fetch the dustpan and brush.”
49. Put the Seat Down
Put the lid down before you flush. I thought it was weird as a kid, but I understand it now: little bits of whatever’s in the bowl aerosolizes when you flush. If the lid is down, it’s less gross than it raining poo germs on your toothbrush. As a kid, my family was the only household I was ever in where the toilet lids were down.
I have recently imparted this rule on my significant others with regard to my apartment. He always puts down the seat—very kind of him to begin with—but now he puts down the lid too. I love him, but his poo germs can stay off my toothbrush.
50. Un-Lay-vering Loyalty
When my dad worked for Frito-Lay we had a rule that saying the word “Pringles” was a swear word.
51. A Growing Problem
If my sister or I made a mess in our bedroom, my mom would toss everything—including stuff that was already in its right space—into a pile in the middle of the room to make us clean an even bigger mess. I love her dearly, but that woman and cleaning, WHEW…
52. Make Your Mark
Not really a rule to follow, but I went to the house of a kid in my school years ago, and apparently, they had this thing where you had to write your name in permanent marker on the wall if you had never visited the house before.
53. Open Door Policy
If you felt the need to lock a door in a house you didn’t pay the bills for then you didn’t need a door. Nobody needed a door. No bedroom, bathroom or closet doors. They were all in my mom’s closet. She got a door.
54. Seatbelt Check
All through middle school, the rule at my best friend’s house was “No belts are to be worn at the dinner table.” This was because when we were 12-14, my best friend was in her emo stage and would wear studded belts. Apparently, the studs on her belts would rub against the back of the chairs and cause damage to the wood.
In hindsight, it actually makes sense, but at the time I used to think it was mad strange to have her mom double check I wasn’t wearing a belt before I sat down.
55. InVenting Facts
We were always told that if you put anything in a vent in a room, it would go straight to the furnace and it would explode. All of my siblings and I believed this until adulthood when one purchased a home and asked about vents then found out the truth.
56. Backs Away
If you are not the parents, you are not allowed to lay down anywhere. Their kids and are only allowed to lay down in their beds and their kids/any guests were only allowed to sit or stand, this was regardless of how long you knew the family or how close you were. The parents felt like you were being rude by making yourself too comfortable in someone else’s house.
57. Baby Steps
As soon as I could stand on a chair and touch the controls, doing my own laundry was added to my list of chores. Me having chores started as soon as I could walk. I was doing my own laundry in kindergarten and putting the dishes away at two.
58. Whites Only
When I was younger, my best friend’s mom didn’t allow anyone entrance to her apartment if we had white socks that weren’t completely white. Any stains meant bye, bye. Also, holes in the socks were instant bye, bye as well. No socks, you guessed it. Bye, bye. Oh. Only white socks, no other colors were accepted. She was really weird back then.
Now, she’s my second mother. She’s not like that anymore.
59. Seriously, Stop
In our house, we respected the word “stop.” It was weird to go other places and see someone getting tickled (or whatever) and hear the kid say “stop” and other people just laughing and continuing to do whatever.
60. Remain in Position
I had a friend whose dad owned white leather sofas. They took precautions to keep the sofas pristine, which was understandable, but one of the rules was that you couldn’t move when sat down. Either you sat down, and that was your position for the rest of the movie, or you would have to stand up and sit back down in your new position.
I’m a fidget-er and was always forgetting this rule. If I ever shifted position my friend would grit her teeth and take a sharp breath like I just showed her a gory picture or something.
61. Half Full, Half Empty
My chore was to empty all the waste paper baskets into the kitchen garbage can. But since my mother was OCD, she couldn’t handle any trash in the waste paper baskets, so she was constantly telling me to empty them. I continued to do this after I moved out until I realized it was ridiculous. Now I fill them to the brim before emptying.
62. You Gotta Be Bibbing Me
I had a friend growing up whose family made her wear a bib at meals until she was like nine. She had, like, 10 different bibs and her family would make me choose one and wear it when I had dinner at her house.
63. No Shoes, No Slippers, No Stairs
Upstairs and downstairs slippers. No shoes or slippers must touch the stairs at any time. When I left home, they put a kettle upstairs so they could make a rule where no drinks could go up or down the stairs.
64. The Weight of the Word
I’ve got one in my house I think it might be time to phase out. I’ve always had the rule that my kids can’t use the word “hate” because I want them to think deeply about how much the word means. Too often kids say they “hate” someone without really understanding what they’re saying. I always figured I’d instill in them the idea that to hate someone was akin to wanting to murder them.
Up comes reading time and it’s one of the words they have to learn how to spell. I think I’m done on this one. I’ve given it a go, and with the best of intentions, but I’m sort of being crushed by society around me and I’m probably making waaaay too big a deal out of it.
65. Putting on a Holiday Show
Only one person was allowed to open a Christmas gift at a time. This meant if it was your turn everyone had to stop what they were doing, including side conversations, and watch you open your present. This led to long, drawn-out gift-opening sessions that seemed to go on forever. It also felt like it put extra pressure on Christmas where you were expected to be really happy—or at least fake being happy—with each gift because all eyes were on you.
On one hand, I can see why you might want to slow down younger kids so they don’t tear open all their gifts at once, but my parents still use this policy when we visit for Christmas as adults. Spending time with my fiancé’s family made me realize we can have a perfectly pleasant, laid-back time at Christmas and no rules are needed to achieve that.
66. Standard Piece of Toast
The toaster dial had to remain at 5. You were NEVER allowed to toast your bread on any setting other than 5. Did you prefer your toast slightly less toasted? Then remove it before it pops up. Did you prefer your toast slightly more toasted? Then restart the toasting process and remove it once toasted to your satisfaction.
But. Whatever you do, never, ever, ever, ever change the toaster dial from 5.
67. Eenie, Meenie, Mine!
“Eeeeny.” Saying this word when leaving your spot in the living room/TV room would save it for your return. If you didn’t say the word, one of your siblings was going to take your spot, especially if it was the best spot on the couch.
68. Familial Cereal DNA
When I was a child, my sister and I were only allowed to eat Wheaties and Cheerios cereals. They were the only cereals in the house. My mother told us that when you are born, the hospital assigns you a cereal to eat. I was assigned Wheaties, my sister was assigned Cheerios, but because we were related, we could eat each other’s cereals…naturally.
I was older than I’m proud to admit when I realized this was made up.
69. Pongo-ing Censorship
We had many words we weren’t allowed to say. Couldn’t say “fart” because it was crude. Instead, we had to say “pongo.” We also had the 3 S’s no one was allowed to say: stupid, shut up, and sucks. My mother is very old fashioned.
70. A Swing and a Miss
Any movie or TV show gets turned off after the third curse word. Three strikes and you’re out!
71. Better in Bulk
Single serving drinks were meant to be consumed “outside of the house.” Even water bottles. When I came back home and saw my friends, who were house-sitting, had drunk a dozen bottles of water in the house I damn near lost it.
72. Currency Exchange
We got paid “Mommy Dollars” with my mom’s face on them for doing chores around the house and had to spend the dollars to get TV and playtime.
73. Under No Circumstances
Never answer the phone or the doors. Like this was so be religiously followed, no matter what. Since I was in kindergarten, I was left home alone a lot. My mom was an RN and my dad was a salesman. They trusted me to get off the bus and straight home. Lock the doors and do whatever just don’t let people know I’m home—but sadly, it had disturbing consequences.
When we adopted my niece, we had a social worker who’d drop by randomly. She found out we were home alone and called the police. The police lady showed up and banged on the doors and windows saying if I don’t open up, they’ll take me away forever. I yelled through the door my dad’s phone number every time she threatened me to open the door.
We were both scared so we ran to the back of the house and hid in my dad’s room. I called my dad telling him the police lady said she was going to take us away. My dad asked if she’s inside. No. “Don’t open the door. On my way.” Dad worked 20 minutes away and that was the longest 20 minutes of my life. The police lady is still screaming and banging as loud as possible.
All of a sudden, she is standing at the doorway, her face twisted up, pissed. My dad follows behind her. She yells at my dad, “Why are they home alone? They could’ve been in danger! You can’t trust these children!” I’m bawling at this point and yelled, “She threatened to take us away!” Dad laughed at the police lady and went to talk to the social worker.
The cop left and me and my niece just sat beside the bed crying. My dad came back in the room. I didn’t know what social workers were for, but I had a feeling they weren’t good. He told me he talked to the social worker and she’s gone and that’s he’s going back to work, so be safe. “We aren’t getting taken away?” Dad laughed, “No. You listened to daddy. You didn’t answer the door.”
Next school year though, we had a baby sitter.
74. Bunny Shots
Fart was a forbidden word. We had to say “I shot a bunny.” I always thought it was the “f” word people referenced.
75. Safety Over Privacy
We weren’t allowed to lock the bathroom doors. My dad was so paranoid that one of us (me or my two brothers) would slip and be injured and there’d be no easy way to open the door and help. Amount of times someone entered without realizing the bathroom was in use: A lot. Amount of times someone using the bathroom slipped and needed help: zero.
76. Prepare the Gathering
Not really a rule but my parents were (and still are) huge fans of Magic the Gathering and every time they wanted to play, we would take out all of the cards they had and spent HOURS sorting them. Then when I was older and they asked if I wanted to play Magic I replied with, “No, it takes too long to set up”. That’s when I found out my parents just hoarded cards and used my mindless obedience as a child to their benefit.
I used to really sit there and sort their cards and while they did other stuff! I thought it was part of the game!
77. One Sugar Lining at a Time
We were only allowed to have one box of breakfast cereal open at a time. We couldn’t open the Cocoa Puffs until we finished the Frosted Flakes. I catch myself following this rule all the time, and I’m almost 30.
78. A Warm Embrace
Before dinner, our family used to hug each other and then start eating. When me and my brother were invited for a birthday, right before dinner, we stood up, hugged and waited for everyone to stand up and hug us.
79. Don’t Stack ‘Em Up
Before we left the dinner table, we always had to say, “May I be excused?” unless it was very obvious that the whole family was getting up. Said that a friend’s house and her mom laughed so hard. She thought it was very polite and very cute. Also, no stacking plates—like nice dinner plates, not paper. My mom has a weird thing about how gross it gets when the bottoms of plates get dirty, so we never stack dirty plates when clearing the table or leave them in the sink.
The whole family knows it too, whenever someone new joins us for like Thanksgiving we’ll all lunge across the table at the poor sucker who thought they were helping clean up by stacking a plate.
80. Punishment Served with Onions
We went to visit my significant other’s sister for New Year Eve’s once. He was talking about growing up with her. They were telling really funny stories about their parents, and also raving about what a great cook their Mom was—how her food always equaled “love” to them. That’s when he asked her what I thought was an utterly bizarre question: “What was your punishment food?”
She scrunched up her face and said “liver and onions.” Apparently, their mother reserved certain meals as punishment for each child, depending on what they disliked the most. She wasn’t really into spanking.
81. Gotta Have My Birthday Cereal
A friend of mine grew up with a rule that once a year (on your birthday) you got to choose whatever sugary cereal you wanted. When the box was finished, that was it. The rest of the year was non-sugary cereal (Cheerios, Corn Flakes, etc.). He had a huge shock when he spent the night at a friend’s house and in the morning saw that they had sugary cereal just…there.
Wide-eyed, he asked, “You get birthday cereal…ALL YEAR??” And that’s how he learned “birthday cereal” wasn’t a thing in the rest of the world.
82. The Silence of the Lambs
This is more of a custom I suppose. I grew up on a small farm in America raised by immigrant parents and grandparents, but I went to school 20 minutes away in a small town where most people didn’t raise any animals except a few chickens maybe. Typically, around Easter, my family would butcher several sheep in our back yard—I believe a pretty illegal practice now that I look back.
We’d hang them in sheets in our tree to dry out, then either wrap them whole or chop them up and transport them in our truck to other families of our nationality in the community who bought them for Easter. I realized this was not normal when I was dragged into the principal’s office at age 10 to explain the drawing of my family’s spring break that I had turned in.
It was bloody bodies in a tree and me and my dad stuffing them in his trunk. So, you can imagine they had a lot of questions.
83. Pay the Sister!
When my brother and I were younger, I convinced him that younger brothers had to pay “brother taxes” to their older sisters. I would collect his taxes once a week, meaning I took all of his quarters so I could buy candy. The poor little guy went YEARS thinking that all little brothers had to pay a tax to their older sisters until one day he finally told his friends and they told him that brother tax doesn’t exist.
He then told my parents and they made me give him all his money back. We laugh about it all the time now.
84. The Warmth of a TV
My mum used to put a blanket over our TV so that whenever we watched TV there was a little ritual of removing the blanket. She thought this would reduce the amount of TV we watched. All it did was make me seem like a total weirdo. When I went to other people’s houses, I’d ask them where their TV blankets were.
I had a friend who instead of washing the dishes after a meal just put them straight back in the cupboard. I thought his parents would freak out but it turns out it was just something they did in their house. Whenever I went over, I always made sure to eat beforehand.
86. Her Anxieties Never Held Water
My grandmother (who lived with us) did not let me walk up and downstairs, and I was also not allowed to let shower water hit my chest. She believed that if I either fell on the stairs or did them too quickly, I would die. She also told me that if shower water pounded on my chest it would destroy my heart and it would be my fault if I had a heart attack and died. Both of these were enforced rules (amongst 10 million others) in my house.
She did have a kid who had died of heart problems, but the shower water thing is only an instruction for like RIGHT AFTER open-heart surgery. Jesus.