Dear Zac (and, eventually, Toby),
Here are some rules which we hope you will find invaluable as you navigate your way towards that weird and wonderful state us adults call ‘being grown-up’.
Rule #1: We will always be right, and you will always be wrong. Even when you’re right, we will still be more right than you. So there.
Rule #2: We reserve the right to change the rules at any time. There will be times when you will be told to eat your dinner for your own good. There will also be times when you will be sent to your room without dinner and be told it’s for your own good. Don’t bother arguing about the apparent flaws in our logic (see rule #1).
Rule #3: You will always be “our adorable little boy”, even when you are a teenager with an attitude problem and halitosis – until the point at which you realise you can take advantage of this status, at which point this rule becomes null and void with immediate effect.
Rule #4: You will constantly be told – in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary – how things were so much better when your mum and dad were your age, even though we only had three TV channels and had never heard of plasma, HD or CBeebies. Just nod in agreement; some battles really aren’t worth the effort.
Rule #5: “No” means “maybe”. “NO!” means “no”. And “NOOOO!!!” following on from “No” and “NO!” means you have pushed things just a little too far and the wrath of all things holy is about to descend on you. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
Rule #6: Your father will spend the next few years encouraging you to play football/cricket/rugby/bass guitar or to do some other activity he wishes he’d been any good at when he was a child. You may not be that keen, but try to humour him; he means well.
Rule #7: Your mother will praise you when you are a good boy and publicly castigate you when you refuse to do as she says, but secretly she will be proud of your independent streak. This gives you some latitude for stubbornness – but don’t push it too far.
Rule #8: There will come a time (probably as you enter your teenage years) when we will become a profound source of embarrassment to you because of our clothes, taste in music, boring lives and/or just the fact we are visible. That’s okay, but just remember this: we have changed your nappies in public. Want to talk about who embarrasses whom now?
Rule #9: Remember, no matter how old, successful and respected you turn out to be, we reserve the right to humiliate you with naked baby photos and videos. Don’t even think about deleting them: we have backups. Lots of them.
Rule #10: The formula for calculating the age at which you become exempt from rule #9 is as follows:
Age (in years) = never
There are no exceptions to the above equation, even if you have children of your own.
Mum & Dad