Rules of Engagement – Don’t Bleed on the Rug

A friend posted on FB some joke definitions of what her Mom taught her. (Thanks, Michigan Blue)

What my Mom taught me:
Religion – “You better pray that comes out of the carpet”
Logic – “Because I said so, that’s why”
Irony – “Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about”
Wisdom – “When you get to my age you’ll understand”
Justice – “One day you’ll have kids, I hope they turn out just like you!!”

Moms or any parental unit for that matter, really don’t realize what power they have over their children or how literal those same kids can be.

Bashert tells the story of the time their father told her sister to “stand right there” in the store.  He moved on to the next aisle and she didn’t.  It took him several aisles to realize that she hadn’t moved with him – she stood ‘right there’.

It got me thinking about the one edict that rang loud and clear through our household:

Don’t Bleed On the Rug

I’m not really sure where this stemmed from initially.  I have visions of dastardly deeds being performed and having to remain spotlessly clean so as to not leave any trace for the CSI team to discover.

Fortunately though, I don’t think my family is that full of intrigue.

I do know that it was a rule that I took hard and fast.  I know because I was tested.

Let us return to the time my family resided in Phoenix, Arizona.  If memory serves me right – and that’s a challenge – I was about nine at the time.

Once again, most of the kids in the neighborhood were outside playing.  We lived on a cul-de-sac and as long as we stayed inside that confine we were all good to go without much direct parental oversee.

This promoted independence and stupidity.

There were only two front yards we could really play on in the cul-de-sac, ours and the Kam’s.  Everyone else either had rock yards or the parents didn’t want their grass (a precious commodity in the desert) destroyed.

So, there we all were in the Kam’s front yard doing our thing.  Chasing each other around, playing catch and popping a rake.

Popping a rake?

Ah, a game of reflex and skill that only experienced gardeners and unwise children undertake.

You see it involves placing the rake on the ground with the tines facing upward at one’s feet.  One then stomps on the tines with just the right angle causing the rake handle to pop upward.   The object is to catch the handle before it whacks you in the face.

Keith Kam (all the Kam children had K names: Keith, Kathy, Karen & Kim – go figure, maybe it saved on monogramming) was deep in the game with a steady series of successful pops.  I, on the other hand, was only marginally aware of this when I heard my mother call for us to come to supper.

Dutiful child that I was, I, ahem, ‘immediately’ dropped whatever I was doing and headed home.

As I made my way, I crossed in front of Keith’s field of play.  At the exact moment he popped the rake, I stepped into the strike zone.  The handle came up with a force, I’m sure I could figure out if I had stayed in my summer Physics course.

It struck a glancing, but firm blow right across my kisser.

Blood began to flow – steadily.

I ran the rest of the way home hands cupped under my bottom lip.  By the time I reached the garage entrance to the house I had a handful of blood collected.

I stood at the door calling out for Mom as best I could with the injured lip.  She replied for me to come in.  I yelled back that I couldn’t.

The shock on her face was quite vivid as she came around the corner to see what could possibly prevent me from entering the house. It didn’t take much to realize that I was holding fast to the number one house rule.

She dragged me into the house and the little bathroom off the garage.  I think she may have laughed a bit.

Forty years, oops, forty-one years later my lip still has a scar, but my pride stands tall.

Nary a drop of blood was spilled on that rug.


  1. That was my mother’s number one rule as well! We’ve been talking about it lately, as my mum passed away 3 weeks ago. I wrote her obituary and included that little gem in it. This evening I thought about how that rule would be great on a flag, like “Don’t tread on me.” I also began to wonder if my mother made it up, or got it from somewhere. That’s how I found your post. Hmm. Would your mother be English by any chance?

    1. Kathy – I’m sorry for your loss. How wonderful you could find a ‘goodie’ to remember. Mom is not English, but very Southern American! My siblings & I were just laughing about this shared memory over the holidays – I’m glad you found this post. Perhaps, a tee-shirt slogan?

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