Thursday, May 27, 2010
Following the Rules
Yestereday I had a discussion with some teachers about following the rules. As many of you know, I am rule follower. Just give me a rule and get out of my way. I will follow the rules or die trying. It turns out that in much of America today, that makes me very special. Everyone seems to think they are special and that the rules don’t apply to them. Or as the Writing Playground’s Problem Child expresses it, “Everyone thinks they are a special snowflake.”
I was telling a story from my childhood yesterday about why I hate pears, when it was pointed out to me that I have always been a rule follower. It happened in kindergarten. Kim, a girl at my table, ate a pear every day for snack. I didn’t like pears but, hey, she didn’t try to make me eat it. Then one day they made us take our snack outside to eat. Now I was already unhappy about that. I am not a fan of dirt, bugs, or outside air but at five years old they don’t really let you be in charge. So there we were outside--Kim, me, AND her pear. I am not much of an athlete and I am very clumsy, so when Kim began to chase me with her pear it was just a few seconds until she had me on the ground grinding that half-eaten pear into my face. Since I am also not much of a fighter, I just had to lie there and take it until an adult pulled her off of me. I am, however, an excellent getter-evener. There was not a rule at my kindergarten that said you could not put crayons down the toilet. It also turns out that if you are only five, and during nap time you say you need to go to the bathroom, no one frisks you to make sure that you don’t have Kim’s 64 box of crayons with built in sharpener stuffed into your shorts. I NEEDED to get even with that Pear Welding Girl! After that day, there was a rule posted in my kindergarten's restroom that the staff referred to as the “Stephanie Rule.” It stated, “Do not put crayons down the toilet.” Oh, I got into some trouble for stealing her crayons. I had to apologize and replace them, but they weren’t able to make the crayons in the toilet charge stick due to the fact that there wasn’t a rule against it. It's hard to enforce a rule that doesn't yet exist. When I finished the story Barefoot Babe said, “You have always been you - having to follow the rules, even at five.”
It’s true. I always want to follow the rules. Good girls who follow the rules are supposed to be successes, who are rewarded. Bad girls who break the rules are supposed to be failures, who suffer. As an adult, I realize that isn’t always the case. Often, we see rule breakers rewarded with success, money, or fame. Sometimes one needs to break the rules in order to be true to oneself.
Have you ever broken a rule and had it turn out well?