We Don't Lick Each Other (The British are Coming!)


There are times, as a parent, when you need to establish norms. 

Simple things like the appropriate surfaces for disposing of boogers, whether one may or may not fart on other people, and whether spontaneously licking another human being is ever appropriate.    

So when, for instance, I see Levi lick his brother’s check, I make a firm and direct proclamation, “We don’t lick each other!” 

Or when someone picks their nose while I’m reading to them at bed time and proceeds to wipe it on the wall, I might say, “We don’t wipe our boogers on the wall.” 

As I said, sometimes you need to establish norms. 

While other families may do as they please (Licking? Why, yes, please.   Booger’s on the wall?  Of course, that’s fine art to me!) we here are choosing to dance to a different drum. 


“Only 19 and ½ more days of school!” my daughter said.

She may as well have been Paul Revere screaming his midnight warning, so great was my alarm. 

Good God, I thought, where have I been? What’s happened?  The hour draweth nigh!

The British, indeed, are coming. 

The British are coming and they are demanding to be entertained, to be vacation-bible-schooled and swim-lessoned, to be play-dated and day-tripped and, good Lord, I am unprepared. 

Nineteen and a half more days and me without a plan.


So I decided to establish some norms.

We are doing SLOW this summer.  We are eating ice cream on the porch and watching storms move through.  We are catching fireflies (if we let them stay up late enough) and getting bored enough to use our imaginations.  We are camping in the back yard because it is FREE and state-parking because it also is FREE. 

We are doing KINDNESS, which is a spacious sort of thing that pairs well with SLOW and the NON-LICKING of other people.  It will take practice and there will be sure-misses, but KINDNESS is also free and I plan to help us all be prodigal in its dispensation by the time fall rolls around.

We are practicing GENTLENESS which, good Lord, is a long enough word to be out of fashion these days, but necessary also for when our KINDNESS slips and SLOW starts to feel like stagnation.  We will not hit when we are farted on, though we may hit (its reflexive) if we are bitten. 

We are doing HOME this summer, because we’ve waited so long to find one and because having a home means making one which isn’t something that can be done without a little presence.  We will be HOME and unhappy and scraping the boogers off the wall.  Then we will still be HOME and laughing as we tell about the ones who ate their boogers and the ones who used them to decorate.  We will be HOME when the first hail storm tears through and when the first peas are ripe for picking.  We will be HOME for skinned knees and sibling frustrations, HOME for sharing and collaboration. 

We will ALL work hard, because I'm not a martyr in the making and we will knock-off before the work is done because, let's face it, it will never really be done. 

We will do vacation bible school and swim lessons and vacation, but they are not our norms, not the hub that holds the spokes of our summer together. 

The British are coming, but don’t worry, it’s ok.  There’ll be almost no licking, I promise. 

What are your family’s summer norms? 

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