20 Rules for My Daughters

sistersKnow who I love? Tina Fey. For so many reasons, but especially for “A Prayer for My Daughter,” from her recent book Bossypants. Like so much of her work, it ignores age-old tropes about mothers and daughters and gets at the heart of this relationship.

I worry about being a mom of daughters because, well, so many daughters seem to battle with their moms. My girls are so brilliant and bring me so much joy, but I know the day will come when I’m yelling at them and can’t believe they’re acting so nutty.

So I figured I’d write some rules for my two daughters right now, so that when the time comes, I can just refer them to a web page rather than actually parenting them. That’s okay, right?

  1. You may not fight over a boy.
  2. If you do fight over a boy, it has to be that you’re each saying, “No, it’s okay, you date him.” But really, a boy is not allowed to get between you ever.
  3. Actually, you may not fight at all. Not that I have any hope of enforcing that one.
  4. You are going to get tattoos and piercings. Please, for the love of Gaga, accompany each other on these expeditions so you at least don’t get something dumb. I would prefer if you checked in with your heavily-inked Aunt Emily before you commit.
  5. You must reach for the stars! Within reason.
  6. Learn to type and learn to clean, but don’t ever do those things for someone else, except each other.
  7. Tutus only in ballet class or at Burning Man.
  8. You may not walk in heels until you know how to walk in heels. I would prefer that you only do this in the company of men also walking in heels.
  9. You may only wear pink ironically.
  10. You may only wear Crocs if you have a bunion.
  11. You may not have bunions.
  12. Oh: Very important. If you move back to the East Coast and you spend your first winter there marveling at the intensity of the cold, and you wake up to the first spring day bursting with joy and the desire to run shoeless through the streets, you must get a pedicure first.
  13. And no flip-flops, except for right after that pedicure.
  14. You must be picky about boyfriends and husbands (or girlfriends and wives! I’m cool with that!). But not so picky that you never manage to commit. But not so committey that you never take a chance and, say, move to Chicago to take classes at Second City because you’re scared and use boyfriends as an excuse. And um ... you know what, don’t listen to me about boyfriends and husbands, unless I’m talking about your dad, who’s awesome. Find someone like him.
  15. Except not one that snores.
  16. Scratch that, the snoring isn’t that bad.
  17. You’re going to Barnard, my alma mater. I’m sorry I didn’t save up enough to send you there, but we’ll find a way.
  18. When either of you hears the sentence “If you really loved me, you’d ...” you are to answer it by turning your back and sprinting away so fast, a sonic boom is your exit music.
  19. Unite against me if you must. As long as you’re united.
  20. And the final rule: Never, never, never forget the times we lay together in bed and laughed about nothing. Even if you only remember them on a cellular level, that’s what’s going to light your way through the dark times, my brilliant girls.

Failure to follow these rules will result in a massive time-out.

What are the rules you wish you could write for your kids?

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