Jan. 18, 2013 at 11:04 AM ET
Not only were two young cousins from California paying attention when their parents told them the right way to behave, they spent two weeks compiling more than 150 rules to live by in their own personal rulebook.
Isabelle Busath, 10, and Isabella Thordsen, 8, filled their little red notebook with rules like “no talking back,” “no pushing,” “be safe,” “no coloring on people” and a favorite, “don't bite the dentist.”
But the girls accidentally broke a rule ("Protect this rule book"), leaving it behind in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Citrus Heights, Calif. That’s where employee Raymond Flores, 20, found it, and he was so inspired by the handwritten rules that he became determined to track down the book's owners.
With no names in the notebook, Flores turned to the media for help in finding the owners. “We called a few news stations and overnight, it just spread all over the Internet,” he said.
“What really got me the most was rule 154, which was to 'protect this book,'" he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. “You can see some of the rules are very simple and childish like ‘no poking,’ ‘no squeezing others,’ things like that,” Flores said on TODAY alongside the girls on Friday. “Then there are very meaningful ones about the book too, like ‘don’t color in the rule book’ and ‘be nice to books.’"
The girls, who feared they might never see their book again, were happy to have it back. “It made us feel good,” Isabelle said.
Flores said the grateful girls invited him to become part of their “club of kids who follow the rules.”
“When I found the book, 158 was empty,” he said. “They let me fill out 158. I wrote ‘stay in school’ and if I could add another one, I’d say to ‘be compassionate.’”
The girls explained that they came up with their rules by listening to their parents (Rule No. 5: "Lisen.") and observing the world around them.
“Our parents and our moms tell us not to do stuff like that,” Isabella said. “We go my Grandma’s every Wednesday and we go and then we remember the rules and we write them.”
“We look around us and see what happens around us,” said Isabelle, whose trip to the dentist was the inspiration for the “Don't bite the dentist” rule.
“Sometimes we mess up a little bit,” Isabelle conceded. “At home,” added her cousin.
Lauer ended the segment by suggesting a rule against underestimating the power of two young ladies.
That led Flores, who according to The Sacramento Bee is the father of a 3-year-old and wants to become a paramedic, to suggest: “Don't underestimate the power of cart pushers, either.”