House Rules


We don’t have too many house rules. The top shelf in the left cabinet is full of contraband (food to which they’re allergic) and must remain untouched. Shoes go in the shoe bin. Even if you hear Mom or Dad say “damn it,” you’re not allowed to say “damn it.”

Things like that.

Another rule, often stated at the onset of a wrestling match is “you roughhouse at your own risk.” We do plenty of it, but if someone sustains a bumped elbow or a toss off a bed, she does not get mad about it, because of the rule.

After years of marriage, Jack and I have gotten thoroughly used to each other’s quirks and mannerisms, with perhaps the exception of one. In the morning, his pre-set alarm will go off. He does not hear it, but it wakes me up — every nine minutes after I shake him until he hits snooze and it happens again. (That quote about insanity and vicious cycles applies here.)

I have become Pavlov’s dog, but the bell is a Verizon Wireless ringtone, and instead of asking for food, I am irritable and cranky. Even if I’m awake, downstairs, in the kitchen, lovingly cooking a pot of oatmeal, I’ll hear it, and the alarm won’t stop until I call his phone to deactivate the alarm.

It is hell.

“I hate your alarm,” I am supine, staring at the ceiling, growing in rage.

“It’s not that bad. You’re just very sensitive to sound,” he reaches over and smacks his phone with his hand. While true, it still solves no problem.

“I’m bringing you back for a refund,” I tell him.

“No refunds. Too much time has passed. You only get store credit, and I’m only good for a big pile of lightbulbs.”

“Fine. Lightbulbs don’t use alarm clocks.”

Two mornings later, and I’m up early. I head to the gym, come home, shower, get dressed, and while I’m making a cup of tea in the kitchen, I hear it. The ringtone. I groan, call his phone until his phone chimes with a separate ring, and hang up.

“Good morning!” I sing-song, a severe side effect of smugly getting a workout in before 6a. There’s a gentle back pat. An arm rub. Urgent whispers of not wanting to be late. A tug-of-war with a duveted-quilt. A more vigorous arm shove. Two feet firmly placed against his back as I will him towards the edge of the bed with my leg muscles. He swats at my ankles, eyes still closed. It devolves into a typical-of-our-household wrestling match, and in an accidental whip of the torso, one strike right to my face.

I hear a crunch and my nose is bleeding. I’m clutching at my face while Jack grabs tissues and repeats a staccato let-me-see-let-me-see. A minute later and Remmy is in our bedroom, looking concerned, while Jack has one arm around me and I’ve got a faceful of Kleenex.

“I can feel you trying very hard not to laugh,” I mutter, shrugging his arm off my shoulder.

Jack breaks into a fit of giggles. “You don’t understand. The first thing you said was, ‘Oh my God, my nose. It’s my only nice feature.'” He pauses and quickly adds, “You have lots of lovely features.”

All three girls have gathered now, and I re-enact the blood, blood, BLOOD scene from Zootopia for them.

Two ibuprofen and an ice pack later, we don’t think it’s broken. But my teeth hurt, the post-workout buzz has faded, and frankly, everyone seems just a little too chipper. I’d complain, but I know the roughhousing rule.

Doesn’t mean I didn’t just order a shake-and-wake alarm clock and five Nerf guns off Amazon, though.

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  • Reply Lonek8 October 31, 2016 at 11:34 am

    I feel like maybe the rough housing rule doesn’t apply here, seeing as you were just trying to get him out of bed like a responsible adult. Ifit were me, I’d personally never let my husband live down the fact that he gave me a bloody nose. But then again, I’m a spiteful, terrible person 😂😂

    • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:23 am

      This is a solid plan. I will remind him this evening.

  • Reply Caron October 31, 2016 at 11:35 am

    You have SO much more patience than I do… my husband has an alarm on his watch and sometimes he’ll fall asleep on the couch and then the alarm goes off in a room in which he is not located and I again remind him of how he needs to take the damn thing with him or I will throw it out. But I never throw it out. I’m full of empty threats.

    • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Empty threats! That’s my problem, too. I need that machine from the intro to the Jetsons where the bed just catapults him right into the shower.

  • Reply Kate Nelson October 31, 2016 at 11:46 am

    I’ve given my husband a bloody nose on more than one occasion. :)

    • Reply Roo November 1, 2016 at 10:27 am

      He and I can start a club.

  • Reply MichelleLG October 31, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Ok, confession time: I am the perpetual snooze-button slapper n my marriage.
    (I am imagining a chorus of “thank you for your honesty” ala Candor Faction from Divergent).

    Can we still be friends if I bribe you with chetos and Diet Coke? ;)

    • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Yes, we can. Nice work on quoting Divergent, PS.

  • Reply Christy October 31, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    My husband sets the alarm for 4:58 every morning with zero intentions of getting up. It’s even across the room and he still gets out of bed to hit snooze AT LEAST 7 times every morning (7 days a week) He bought a nerf gun to shoot in the dog’s direction, might be time to hide it under my side of the bed.

    • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I think these husbands need to start going to bed earlier.

  • Reply Rachel October 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I confess I am the pre-alarm alarm setter in my house. The wake up alarm, the get up alarm, the you’llama be late if you don’the get up now alarm, the leave the house now alarm. And it doesn’t stop with the morning. There’s the medication alarm, the pay for swimming lessons alarm, book the hairdressers alarm, the chicken’s ready alarm…

    • Reply Rachel October 31, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Sorry for auto correct. Hopefully you can decode my message.

    • Reply Roo October 31, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Gonna have to break it to you, Rachel. I don’t think we can ever be married.

      • Reply Rachel October 31, 2016 at 6:56 pm

        Aw what?! *hurries to build new life plan*
        Can I still read your blog?

        • Reply Roo October 31, 2016 at 7:15 pm

          We can still be friends. But maybe not slumber party friends.

  • Reply Erin October 31, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    One of my college roommates set her alarm to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts and she hit snooze like it was an olympic sport and she was going for the gold medal. I still can’t hear that song without getting grouchy.

    • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Haha she Pavlov’d you, too. Sigh.

  • Reply Sandra November 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I love your writing, and your personality, Roo! Seriously, “It’s my only nice feature?” I’d have peed my pants from laughing. You are exactly the kind of human I wish I had in my real life and I’m so glad you and Jack are repopulating the earth with that winning DNA.

    • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Gah! Sandra, I’m so late, but I wanted to respond to the nicest comment!! Move to Connecticut so we can hang. I await your call.

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