the mama rule

Ed note: Be warned, the following is unedited due to time constraints. Godspeed. 

Okay, guys, I know I owe you the second half of the Godspell post. And I’ll get to it; I swear. But in the meantime, the conveyor belt in my head is backing up with blog posts and well, I kinda feel like this ..


Except that I can’t eat blog posts, which is good, because if I could I probably would and heaven knows, they’d be high in calories.

Anyway, I just have to tell you about my very last conversation with Brooke last night before leaving her room. I hope once you read it, you’ll understand why it simply couldn’t wait. But first, a little context.

First, there was this:

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 6.10.45 AM

Which was awesome.

Later, there was this:

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 6.09.59 AM

Which was not awesome at all.

And then there was this …

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 6.11.15 AM

Which was so awesome that the earlier not awesome really didn’t matter anymore.

Oh, there was also this …

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 6.25.26 AM

Which has nothing at all to do with this post, but dude, WE MADE STUFF. TOGETHER. And for the record, the only one of the four that I had any involvement in beading at all was the Christmas tree and only because someone totally bamboozled me into “helping” and then giggled every time I tried to give it back and she said, “No YOU do it.” But the other three? ALL HER. Yes, Rudolph. ALL HER. I know. Moving on …

So, at bed time, we had a few things to discuss. Over the course of the day, we’d talked about some rules. Brooke likes rules – the more hard and fast (harder and faster?) and the less bendable, the better. So we talked about rules.


Scissors are NEVER to be used for cutting one’s own hair.

Lying to one’s Mama is NOT okay.

The sand must always be put out of reach of the dogs when we’re done playing with it.

Pretty straightforward stuff. Except for the lying part, because that gets confusing and a little messy, but answering, “No I didn’t cut my hair,” when you’ve clearly just cut your hair? Well, yeah, that is pretty straightforward. So, at bedtime, we reviewed what we had talked about during the day.

The conversation went like this …

Me: “Let’s talk about the rules that we learned today, okay?”

B: “Okay.”

Me: “What’s the rule about scissors?”

B: “What?”

Me: “What do we never use scissors for?”

B: “Cutting our hair.”

Me: “Or?”

B: “Anyone else’s  hair.”

Me: “That’s exactly right.”

Me: “And what did we learn about the truth? What’s the rule?”

B: “That we tell it always.”

Me: “Right. And what happens when we tell a fib?”

B: “We get in trouble. And get a time out.”

(For the record, time outs aren’t and have never been part of our repertoire, so this isn’t what happened. However, they are part of her scripting world thanks to shows like Ni Hao Kai-LAN and she relates being in trouble with getting a time out, even though she doesn’t get time outs.) If you followed that, go get yourself a piece of Halloween candy to celebrate.

Me: “That’s right. But most importantly, how do people feel when we don’t tell them the truth?”

B: “Angry.”

Me: “That’s right. And how does that make you feel — when people are angry?”

B: “Sad.”

Me: “That’s right. So if fibbing makes people feel angry and then we feel sad that they’re angry, should we be fibbing?”

B: “Not ever.”

Me: “That’s right.”

Me: “And what did we learn about the sand?”

B: “That we put it in the kitchen when we’re done with it so that Lucy and Winston wouldn’t eat it.”

Me: “Great job, Brooke. That’s exactly right.”

As this conversation was happening, I was lying in the dark marveling at the very fact that, well, this conversation was happening. Those of you who have been around here awhile will know that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of Brooke being able to do this a year ago. But here we are. And it’s a pretty damned good place to be. I wanted to throw her up in the air and celebrate. But instead, I asked one more question. This one was nonsensical. Just for fun. Or so I thought. Just to make her laugh, I asked …

“And what’s the rule for Mama?”

I thought she’d say, “You’re silly, Mama. There’s no rule for Mama!” But she didn’t. She thought about it as though it was a serious question. And she answered with one word …


There are days upon days when I feel like I’m screwing this all up. And then there are days like yesterday when, impromptu hair cuts and all, I’m pretty sure I’m getting something right.


24 thoughts on “the mama rule

  1. Woo Hoo! Stop making me cry when I’m supposed to be getting ready for work:) I love reading about your and B’s victories!!!! They inspire and delight me to be a better mama to my C. PS, we potty trained this weekend, and although I was SURE it was going to end in me crying or dying or running away from home… He got it! No accident since Friday! Victorious weekend all around!

  2. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. THE BEST. Loved every bit of the post, especially the FB posts I had missed haha. 🙂 But honestly… Love. Our daughter is 3 1/2 and she can answer questions like “what does a dog say?” and so one day I was askng her what different animals say and I thought Id ask her what her baby brother says, and t my surprise and delight she answered “Waaaaah!” like a baby cry. With a new door opened I tried, “And what does Stuart (our dog) say?” And she answered “Woof Woof”. I then asked her what does mommy say and she said, “Good job”. My heart melted into a pile of good because she had never said that expression before but its what I say to her so often, especially when shes trying hard to do something thats tough, or when shes able to communicate in a way that I know is hard for her, etc. The fact that she thought of me as her encourager was a year supply of encouragement sent down from the Lord. Its such a gift when we get a peak into their amazing minds and hearts. Thanks so much for sharing this, and thank Brooke for us too. 🙂

    • oh isn’t that the best??? i used to hate the wheels on the bus song because the mommy’s on the bus were always shushing the kids. i cry foul! 🙂

  3. As awesome as this is, it makes me want to cry as well. Because I wish I’d learned to lie better, instead of always trying to tell the truth. Well, not really, because I love the truth and it’s right even if rather stark and one dimensional sometimes. But my inability to tell good lies has gotten me into some very painful trouble over the years. You would probably call it being “nice” or “subtle” or “diplomatic” or “strategic”. But to me, it’s all telling lies. And I fail miserably at it. Because the rule is never to tell a lie.

    (OK, you need an example? Imagine this. My partner is being all romantic and lovey-dovey and says something like “I’ll never leave you.” And I immediately snap out of the romantic mood and say “You can’t promise that. That’s a lie.” Fun times.)

    • oh, AC, i think about this all the time. i really do. and it scares me, because i’m not sure how to prepare brooke for the fact that not all lies are called lies – at least not when they’re called social niceties. we’ll have to take it as it comes, i guess, because as much as we’re starting to tread into these conceptually murky waters, she’s just not there yet. for now we talk about framing – ie HOW we say things that might be hurtful. as in – changing “those are ugly pants” to “i like your blue pants better than those” or, even better, “i like your shirt.” 🙂 .. there are SO MANY nuances and, for people who need to learn each piece discretely, it’s overwhelming to think about where to start. thank you, as always. xo

      • You’re doing a great job and yes you are absolutely right about taking it one step at a time. You’re letting her develop at her own pace. I think where things went wrong for me is that by the time I was ready to learn about “sometimes you need to be able to lie”, nobody was offering me that developmental lesson anymore.

        I really like your examples! I think I’m going to try those.

    • Thank you for your perspective. It really does help me to relate better to how my daughter might be processing things.

      And as someone who isn’t on the spectrum, I sometimes have a hard time with these types of lies, I mean social nuances.

      • It’s a skill that needs to be learned, as much as walking or tying your own shoelaces. And it heavily depends on reading the situation right. Which is something I have a lot of problems with anyway. But I also think that is due in part to my childhood, because by the time I was developmentally ready to socialise, the information on HOW to do that wasn’t being offered up anymore. So I’m still behind on those fronts. I’ve cobbled a social persona together from years of experience but there are still some things I miss.

  4. I generally expect to well up a little when I read your posts, except I didn’t expect to at the beginning of today’s, but then I did and I felt a little betrayed by how you reeled me in with a fairly objective telling of your day and then hit me below the belt with that *love* thing at the end. (How’s THAT for a run-on sentence? I had to write it the way I felt it.)

    In all seriousness, GREAT post. It made my day. So, thank you.

  5. man, that brooke is just one amazingly awesome nifty super kid. she’s always changing, growing, and in doing so changing and growing the minds of people around her (and those of us lucky enough to be reading these descriptions). she’s a never-ending, one-kid revolution.

  6. Just when you think they may not understand they totally do. My son made a comment at the October birthday celebration (where we celebrate all October birthdays on one day) Aunt Paula let him make her wish before he blew out her candles – “That we will always be together” this from the boy who scripts…not a dry eye in the house. As you are getting more conversation out of Brooke I know that I will too one day. As always thanks for sharing. I have NEVER followed a blogger before and you are my first one. I need a life line to get through grad school and parenting ❤

  7. Talk about absolutely PERFECT. I’ve always felt that, if nothing else, I want my son to know that I love him no matter what and that his happiness is paramount. For me, it has been the unprompted “I love” that has made all the difference. Just like you said.. on those days you’re just not sure you’re getting it right and feel like MOTY.. they find a way to let you know that they love you and it’s all okay! PRICELESS!!!

  8. I’ve been following your page on Facebook for quite a while now, as well as reading your blog here whenever you link it from your Facebook page. It’s amazing to see the progress that Brooke has made (fibs and all). I don’t know you or your family personally, but I feel like through your writing that I do know your family intimately. Reading your blog today made me feel pride for Brooke. It may seem odd, but I can honestly say I’m proud of Brooke for everything she has overcome this past year and the way she continues to prove drs wrong!

  9. Had a similar experience with my 4 year old last weekend. Have never had a back and forth conversation with her. And we had one – a great one!
    me: we are going to a farm and we will pet a horse
    Kait: go farm, pet horse
    Kait: bubba stay here
    me: no bubba (her 9 year old brother) is coming with us
    Kait: bubba come with, dada stay here
    me: no dada will come with too
    Kait: doggie stay here
    me: yup the doggie will stay here.
    Tears at the time – even her brother heard and knew how amazing this was. 1 year ago she couldn’t get two sylables out together, 6 months ago we were just scratching the surface of two word sayings. Have always known that the thoughts were in there – just needed a way for us to see/hear it.

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