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The equivalent of "the com" in Star Trek. The markers of authority in the household, particularly over children.

When I was 12 and my brother was 14, my parents had another set of kids. Effectively, these children had 4 parents, and we all found it hard to keep track of who was responsible for them at any given point in time. There was always the risk that we'd miss a handover and that no one would be in charge.

We were using cloth diapers, so there were diaper pins around a lot. One set of these became the token of authority.

After the kids were toilet trained, all diaper pins vanished from the house. But the concept stayed, albeit in virtual form. "You have the diaper pins of authority," my parents would say before going out in the evening.

Now I have a baby of my own, and we're using disposable diapers. There has never been a diaper pin in the house. But we still talk about who has the diaper pins of authority.

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