There are no “rules” in our house.i
Not that rules per se are evil or unbecoming or anything like that, we just choose to keep them out of our four walls as much as possible. But why? Why not be like every other parent who lays down the law and wickedly punishes deviance or malfeasance?
Well, for one, because words matter and “rules” are a very specific and typically very rigid framework derived from a fairly broad type of authority that should realistically apply to one group as much as any other, lest there be confusion as to the inherent “fairness” of said “rules.” So if we had to apply them in our house, we’d then have to ask: from whence, these rules? The state? The local school board? The public health organisation? The Volksgemeinschaft? (Whisper it) me? Perish the thought!
Now, deals, on the other hands, deals we have plenty of in our house. Consensual, either implicitly or explicitly, these deals are the backbone of our socialist relationships. A deal, in case you’ve never knowingly entered into one, isn’t a top-down rule that applies to some but not to others and doesn’t necessarily come with an immediate punishment. It’s rather the product of a trust-based and open-eyed contract between informed individuals based on consensual terms.
We wash our hands when we come in the house.ii That’s the deal.
We take our shoes off before playing “driver” in Daddy’s Jeep. That’s the deal.
We give kisses and hugs goodbye to family members when they’re leaving. That’s the deal.
We pause the TV when we’re asking for something. That’s the deal.
We share with each other. That’s the deal.
We brush our teeth before we read a book and play a bedtime game. That’s the deal.
We have breakfast before we have treats. That’s the deal.
You’ll quickly note, this is what we do,iii not just what you do because that’s the rules… because daddy said so. This is what we do because we all set an example for one another and because we’re a socialist family engaging in elitist nurturement and are therefore keenly interested in developing understandings of, and appreciation for, reciprocal relationships, really the only kind of relationships there are.
While many of the items in the list above may read like rules, they don’t feel like rules, and that’s a key difference. Rules feel restrictive when in fact they’re largely arbitrary, so by framing rule-like frameworks as “deals,” their true flexibility is revealed, and a world of possibility is made manifest.iv
That’s the deal.
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- Recall the RULES ARE “RULES” t-shirt I made for the kids? It really says it all. ↩
- If COVID hasn’t taught us all a bit of basic hand hygiene, what has it taught us? ↩
- How very Margiela, neh? ↩
- Recall that, per MP, “A deal can be anything, and often is.” This is the controlling point in this particular pedagogical lesson in intellectual framing. ↩