It’s never too late to call

Sleeping dog

Image from The Suburban Crab archives

Once during my late teens, my mother caught me calling a friend at 10:30 at night. She wasn’t pleased, especially when she found out that I’d accidentally woken up my friend’s parents when I rang his house. “It’s rude to call so late!” she scolded. She subsequently instituted a household rule that we were never to call people after 10 p.m.

My mother, if you couldn’t guess, is serious about her household rules. If she says no calling after 10, then you sure as heck ain’t calling if it’s after 10.

A couple of weeks ago, Ted and I had just settled in for the night—lights out downstairs, kids sent to bed, a few last minutes of reading before getting some shut-eye—when my cell phone buzzed urgently from my nightstand.

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A perfect model for how not to behave

Photo from

Photo from

Model the behavior you want to see. Time and again, Ted and I have come back to this as one of the cornerstone philosophies for how we parent. We learned long ago that lecturing—“do as I say”—really doesn’t stick. But kids do follow what their parents do. Model the behavior you want to see in your kids, and they pretty quickly start following your behavioral lead.

Of course, the primary reason Ted and I have to come back to this thinking is because we keep straying from it. Or, more accurately: We completely forget that our “cornerstone philosophy” even exists. We are abruptly reminded of it only when one of the kids acts like kind of a jerk. Then it starts niggling at the brain how that jerkiness seems awfully reminiscent of somebody, it’s just so familiar, who are they acting like—oh yeah. They’re acting like us.

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