1. Never shoot someone just once
2. If you're surrounded by a gang while in your car, run them over
3. Never kick a volleyball. It's not a soccer ball, it's a delicate piece of sporting equipment
4. Never scream unless you're being murdered
5. Never slam doors
6. Don't leave things (like shoes) in highly trafficked areas
7. Never throw a gun to the ground - it might discharge accidentally
8. Always double tie your shoelaces
9. Always lock your car doors, even if you're driving at the time
10. Don't lie
So that's the top ten, and now I'm going to explain how some of them came to be/why I think they're important.
Numbers 1 and 7 are just two of several safety tips about guns. Our dad made a point of teaching us about guns in our family, his reasoning being that we might need to defend ourselves someday. There was a time I was watching a movie on T.V. with my mom. I think it's called Sleeping With the Enemy. Some Julia Roberts movie where she's trying to escape from her obsessive husband, only he finds her and they have it out in the end. Anyway, she has a gun and she goes about everything all wrong. We sat there screaming at the television set, unable to understand how she could possibly justify her actions. (You don't ever hold a gun away from you like that; somebody could knock it out of your hand.) We watched in horror as she made error after error. She actually manages to shoot the guy, and after he falls to the ground, what does she do? She collapses to the floor in tears, dropping the gun (you idiot, what are you thinking?!) right next to the body of her husband (why would you place a lethal weapon within the reach of someone who's trying to kill you? You deserved to have him find you Julia) who of course is not actually dead (you only shot him once! Do you really think one bullet is going to stop anybody?!), and who springs to life with the gun in his hand ready to kill her before he actually dies. It was painful to watch. If you're shooting to kill, do it right and empty the clip into the person.
Numbers 2 and 9. Very important. At some point after learning how to drive, our dad gives each of us a lecture about cars. Locking your doors is just good common sense no matter where you live. And that applies to when you're in the car as well as when you leave it parked somewhere. All growing up we kept a baseball bat in our van in case of carjackers, and whomever was sitting next to the big sliding door was responsible for wielding "the kiddie bat" as we called it. You never know when somebody will try and jump into your car. Our dad also told us we had his permission to run over gangs. He said that too often you hear about some woman or another who's surrounded and trapped in her car, helpless to do anything. Well let's see. They're a gang, so they probably have knives or bats or something. What do you have? Oh, right. You're sitting behind the wheel of a machine that weighs a couple thousand pounds. Run them over lady! Also, if you think you're being followed, drive to the nearest police station. And take different routes home from places. Don't have too set of a routine -it just makes it easier for somebody to follow you. Another fun thing is that whenever we got into the family van we checked for the Boogie man to see if he was hiding behind the back seat. That was somewhat terrifying as a child.
I can't emphasize how important number 3 is. I cringe whenever I see someone kick a volleyball. What are they thinking? A volleyball is very delicate and requires just the right amount of air. You should never play with a volleyball that is flat or overinflated. It's damaging to the ball.
Number 8 is just good common sense. Why waste your time having to retie your shoelaces all the time when you can tie them securely the first time and be done with it? No tripping over loose laces, no having to stop on the blacktop every five minutes. Also, I think it's just more convenient for parents who have kids who can't tie their own laces yet. Having worked at a preschool I know the advantages of double tying. Bony M also worked at a preschool, and I think the story goes that as she kneeling down to tie some little boy's shoes he commented how good her hair smelled. And soon all the little boys were coming to her to tie their shoes. I guess once they got out of her sight they'd untie their laces and come back.
Number 10 is to never lie. "Even to cops?" I asked my dad once, knowing he generally thinks cops can't be trusted. He said no, especially not to cops. Lying will make a situation worse and on top of that it's just wrong.
Numbers 4, 5 and 6 (come on and get your kicks) are rules we had in our house that were probably put in place to preserve my parents' sanity. With 8 kids running around I don't blame them. It was just generally known that you didn't scream or slam doors - our dad hated when we did that. If someone threw a fit and stormed off to their room in a huff, that was fine, but slamming the door in the process was never acceptable. It was one of the few things that would bring Dad out of his office. As for not leaving our shoes in the entryway, that's just common sense as well. Someone could trip and kill themselves. It's like in movies when somebody leaves a rollerskate on the stairs. It's funny on the silver screen but not in real life. My dad is probably most quoted as saying "Who left their shoes here?" and "There are too many people in the kitchen!"(We had a very small kitchen growing up. More than two people was kind of a tight fit, and that was if you didn't open the fridge or the dishwasher.) Shoes were supposed to be put away in the pantry or in the cubby. My family has a cubby, which I never realized how funny that was until I was older, that we have a cubby at our house for putting things in. Kindergartners have cubbies, and so does the Draft family.
There's also the list of things our dad told me growing up that are complete lies. Included on this list is the time he told me I didn't need to use conditioner. I never should have trusted him on that one, considering he's bald. I chose to follow his advice one Sunday with disastrous results. Also, (and he doesn't remember this) I asked him when I was little what all that purple stuff was on the horizon. What purple stuff? That purple stuff over there. Oh, that's the dump. And for years I believed him, that the mountains in the distance were piles of trash. That's one of my favorite lies though. He also says that you don't need to put mustard in the refrigerator, which could technically be true, but it's not something I'm going to find out for myself.
And there are scads of other fun memories in there as well, like the way my dad loves my mom and would always grab her and say to us kids, "You see this woman here? I love this woman" and we'd roll our eyes at the two of them in the kitchen. Things like that. I think I've typed enough. I just thought my family would appreciate having the top ten put down in black and white. Mostly I wanted to thank my dad for being who he is, for being half the reason I ended up the way I did, and to say Happy Father's Day.