Children like rules.
They like things to be black and white, with no grey areas.
Thus one of the first lessons they must learn is that rules are made to be broken and that there are more grey areas than black and white ones.
How else can you explain being discovered scoffing chocolate biscuits and/quaffing a sneaky gin and tonic before bedtime?
No, you shouldn’t eat biscuits just before bed and yes, alcohol is not good for you.
But the children have driven you up the wall all day long with their constant moaning and unreasonable demands and therefore the only thing between you and a nervous breakdown is a stiff drink and a Hobnob.
Despite this, I do like to make rules in my house. At least it gives me the air of someone in control, even if I am anything but.
And it gives the children something else to mock me for. And of course they can see how far they can go to flout these rules.
It goes without saying that once you have laid down a rule, it is important to stick to it, otherwise the children really will run rings around you.
One rule that I have tried very hard to keep on top of concerns time spent on the computer.
Nowadays it is important to ensure that children are computer-savvy.
Unlike our own parents’ generation, it is essential that our children have the technological skills and know-how to succeed at school and at work.
My mother still can’t get to grips with getting money out of a cash machine and thinks that reading irate pensioners’ letters on Teletext is the equivalent to surfing the web. No one wants their children to end up like that.
However much you want your children to be computer literate you don’t want them to be stuck in front of the monitor at all hours, on Facebook, You Tube or eBay (as one child I heard of did, culminating in him winning a bid for a BMW, but that’s another story).
Sitting in front of a computer is a solitary experience, and a user can easily be engrossed sufficiently to not hear/ignore anyone trying to communicate with them which can be infuriating for the person trying to call them for a meal or bedtime.
Around a year ago I tried to impose a system by which each child had a certain amount of time on the computer at weekends.
During the week they could only go onto the computer to do homework.
Over the following months a number of variations on this rule developed, largely without my knowledge. Or so I believed.
You see, that’s the problem with these rules, you have to remember what you said.
Having stated the rules, I promptly forgot what they were.
And the children, wily as they are, realised that they could then play up to this and claim that I had said that they could go on the computer during the week if it was Facebook or ‘something creative’.
Maybe I did say this, but to be honest I can’t remember.
This has made my position as chief rule maker and general controller untenable and I am on the point of resignation.