The General’s Orders

It was not his way of imposing discipline on his children. It was just the way he wanted things to be done.

Papa’s top unwritten house rules:

(1) Put it back where you took it out from. The toy, the chair, the bag, the book, the shoes. A place for everything and everything in its place.

(2) No afternoon “sleep,” no playing outside with the other kids. Of course, children would rather play than rest, so we sometimes faked our “sleep.” But now that I’m old and gorgeously busy, I will never ever fake my sleep again.

(3) Avoid borrowing money. He was born poor, grew up poor, married poor, and raised five children while struggling to get out of poverty. He worked in the fields while still a child and worked to help feed a family of eight while still a teenager. It was his pride that, despite being a poor boy, he was debt-free.

(4) Return the tool you borrowed on the very day you borrowed it. He doesn’t want any neighbor coming to our house to get back what we borrowed. Because he also doesn’t want us to go to the neighbor’s house if the situation were reversed. He thinks it was already a favor that we were lent the tool, and so we should not give additional burden to the neighbor where they would have to make an effort to get it back.

(5) Don’t go to school without finishing the homework. Tell mom or him if we needed any help. Papa and Mama never told us to study hard. They just wanted us to do our homework.

(6) When we go out, we should tell mom (because he was usually away at work) where we’d be going, who’s going to be with us, and what time we’d be going home. He doesn’t want us to go home late. He thinks that girls and women should avoid being out late at night.

(7) Help mom with the chores at home. And so we were taught our assigned chores at home. I was the eldest, which means more assignments.

Growing up, I just followed these orders. Many times I resented most of them, but there were times when I felt like it was just part of my home life—like a chair is part of everyday life at home.

I couldn’t understand why we had to do them; he never explained why we’re being made to follow them. But now that we’re no longer sort of bound by his house rules, I admired and loved him more for giving us those orders. ⓜ

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