Even though Kid Two won’t touch any food “mixed all together,” I still make a good Tater Tot Hot Dish every other month or so, because I think it’s some kind of law in Minnesota maybe. Either way, if three out of four people devour it, it’s in the rotation. The other one can pick the tots off the top and call it a meal. I don’t give a….
As I finished my food, I absentmindedly used my finger to wipe the dregs off my plate and lick them off.
“Mom! That’s rude!” my daughter admonished.
“Yes,” I said, “it is. But it’s just us, so I’m okay with it.”
“Because we’re at home?”
“Because we’re at home, yes, but also because it’s just us. I wouldn’t do it in a restaurant, sure, but I also wouldn’t do it if, say, Pastor Collette was here for dinner.”
[Side conversation about inviting our pastor over for dinner; still haven’t done it; sorry, Pastor.]
“Anyway, we do things differently when it’s not just us here or if we’re not at home. You get that, right?”
The littler one finally took a break from scowling at his plate to enter the conversation: “Like put on pants?”
“Exactly. Like, put on pants.”
Home is where your heart is. Home is wherever I’m with you. A house isn’t a home without love. Blah, blah, sappy nonsense, blah.
Home is where you don’t have to wear pants.
Or in my case, a bra. Sweet freedom. I have thighs made for climbing mountains, so I need pants to keep my skin from attacking itself in the absence of a gap. But bras are for suckers. Be free, my mams! You’ve earned your retirement.
I tend to keep company mostly with people who are like me, so I know few people who don’t have these same at-home quirks and varied rules of etiquette.
Some of them include:
- Varied stages of dress. Whether you are pantsless, braless, topless, or anywhere in between, you’re likely not scarring your children for life. I’ve seen “When should I stop letting my kids see me naked?” posted in every Facebook parenting group I’m in on multiple occasions. The consensus is the same: they will tell you. When they ask to shower alone, you’ll know it’s time. When they want privacy for changing clothes, they’ll shut the door. When they don’t want to see you in the bath, they’ll stop walking in on you. I mean, I’ve heard, anyway. I wouldn’t know. We’re still a naked house. With few window coverings. Sorry, neighbors.
- Animal-like table manners. Now, if your kids are super young, they might not understand why they can sit on the table at home, but not at the restaurant, but I think by age three they should be able to make that distinction. Drop something on the floor at home? Don’t worry, the dog will clean it up. Someone else’s house where you’re a guest? You go get a rag and clean that up, young lady!
- Vocal tone. I have never screamed at my kids or partner in public the way I have screamed at them at home. And vice versa. ‘Nuff said.
- Dear Reader, at this point on my list, I paused to think of a number four, and strolled into the next room to ask my partner. “I’m writing a blog. What are some things you do in the comfort of your home you wouldn’t do if people were over or you wouldn’t do in public?” Friends, he didn’t even hesitate, “Scratch. Fart. Burp. Sprawl out on the couch.” So, I’m going to call number four Gross Stuff Boys Do That Really All People Do But Should Still Say Excuse Me After.
The notion of modeling comfort and security in the home runs deep.
Letting yourself be vulnerable, knowing you won’t be judged, is HARD outside the walls of your own abode. Teach your kids they are always safe with you, and they’ll never be gone forever.
I remember one of the first times I spent the holiday with my partner’s family. It’s a large farm family, and we pack ‘em in like sardines, because it’s not like there’s a hotel in the cornfield. One of my sisters-in-law (I have seven, so I won’t say which one to preserve her anonymity) came through the kitchen on the way to the ONE bathroom (One. For upwards of thirty people, depending on the holiday. It’s a blog for another day, that topic.) in just her t-shirt and undies. No embarrassment. No shocked people. Just how we do mornings.
“Oh, thank heavens,” I thought to myself, “these are my people.”
Teaching your kids context and appropriateness along the way, the comforts of home should never be taken for granted. You can cry and scream and go without pants or bras, and we’ll still love you here like you’ll never be loved anywhere else.
Shoot. It DOES boil down to the sappy nonsense.
I guess in parenthood the sappy messages can’t be avoided. Like getting walked in on in the bath and rejected casseroles at meal time.