Sweets for breakfast? Bedtime at midnight? If your child was in charge, what set of house rules would they put in place? When I was invited to find out for a new campaign by the Principality Building Society, I immediately liked the upside-down fun of it. And my 9-year-old daughter took no persuading to grab pen and paper and indulge herself in a little power-crazy fantasy.
“So, what do you think?” she grins, presenting me with her rules. Well …
Rule No. 1
This one comes as no surprise. I’ve seen her salivating in the cereal aisle of the supermarket, running her fingers along the boxes-mummy-never-buys with the wonder of a child just let into Willy Wonka’s factory: Coco Pops, Frosties, Honey Loops ... “You know why I buy the cereals I do, don’t you?” I ask her. “Yes, yes, sugar, health, blah blah blah … but still … it’d be nice to have one with a TASTE.”
Rule No. 2
She has a point. It’s usually parents nagging kids to get ready for school, but in our house it’s complete role-reversal. My daughter hovers in the hallway, all buttoned-up and shiny-shoed, chivvying me along like a mini sergeant major: Have you got your clothes on yet? Have you finished your porridge? It’s 8.25 you know. No, you haven’t got time to do that now … She worries about her name going in the Late Book at school. If only I could peel myself out of bed just a little bit earlier.
Rule No. 3
“That one’s just pure laziness of me,” she giggles. The butler bit harks back to a morning when she and I had a “Planned Lie-in” together and got my husband to bring us breakfast in bed, plump our pillows and generally pander to our every whim. Perhaps she’s also been reading too many books like The Secret Garden and Pollyanna where children have maids and servants. “Does he need to wear a uniform?” I ask her. “No, no, his normal work clothes will do.”
Rule No. 4
“I want to use YOUR shampoo, the posh one, that smells really nice and makes your hair all silky,” she explains. True enough, I do hide my expensive dazzling-shine-with-orange-flower-extract shampoo behind the Everyday Value stuff I buy for the rest of the family. But I didn’t know she’d noticed. As for the 'ironing board method', that’s an idea I stole from my grandmother: Once in a while she’d turn the chore of the Sunday night hairwash into a fun event by doing it at the kitchen sink with me lying back on the ironing board!
Rule No. 5
I must have said, “Don’t jump on the bed – you’ll damage the springs” a million times. It's just that these days I’ve gone all old lady about having a comfortable bed. My daughter argues her case well though: “If we don’t have a trampoline, what do you expect? Children just need to bounce.”
Rule No. 6
“I feel like I’m missing out,” she complains. Really? On what? All we ever seem to do in the evening is nod off in front of another episode of Breaking Bad or have another tedious argument with The Teenager. But she claims she hears us laughing and chatting. “It’s like all the fun kicks off after I’ve gone to bed.”
Rule No. 7
Perfectly reasonable, I’d say. I know there are times when I could have behaved better, times when I was disappointed in myself. I dare to ask her what would count as a crime. “Oh, a small one would be like spilling a bit of your coffee on my homework.” And a big one? “Losing your temper.”
“Maybe we could actually try these rules for one day,” she says with a serious face.
“Oh, it was just a bit of fun,” I say, with an equally serious face.
This post is in collaboration with Principality Building Society.