Family Rules

“Focus on an early memory that involves you and one or both of your parents: a day at the beach, riding in the back seat of the car on a trip, playing catch in the yard. The memory might be positive or negative, but it needs to be pivotal in some way. The memory should be one you associate with a lesson learned, a greater understanding of yourself or your parents or the world. …

“Write for ten minutes, including not only what happened, but also the lesson you took from the experience.”

– Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”



The only rule in our family is don’t worry your mother.

Don’t wander after ice skating and sit behind a pillar. Don’t let mom search and search.

I wonder where she is. Why she hasn’t come to pick me up. It’s dark outside. Eight O’clock in winter. I’m not worried, yet. I was in the right place.

When she finds me, Mom yells. She chews me out. I don’t see fear, only anger. I am young. I wasn’t with her for the frantic search, the rising panic.

I thought I had done something wrong. I was grounded. She yelled

The anxiety that had begun nibbling at my stomach had turned to a cool wave of relief. I start to cry. More due to Mom’s yelling than relief. We ride home in the mini-van. Stoplights provide a dim red hue to everything.

Mom isn’t mad anymore. She is quiet. Anger gone. Relief has calmed her. Faith that the world isgood.

If you want to keep your head and your freedom, don’t worry Mom.


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