Following the rules.
I am a lifelong rule follower.
I don't know what exactly made me this way. I don't have particularly vivid memories of either one of my parents being obsessive rule followers, or having particularly strict rules I was expected to follow at home. I do remember being pretty young - maybe six or seven - and wondering why some of the other kids in my class were always acting up or doing things that the teacher said not to. It made me nervous watching them misbehave, even when they didn't get caught.
Weird kid, I was.
But from some of my earliest memories, the whole concept of rebellion and rule-breaking just didn't make sense in my head. "But the teacher said to not talk when she left the room," I would think to myself - not out loud, of course! - and my righteous indignation at all the little rebels would swell up in my chest until I felt like bursting with it.
Some things never change.
I'm still a rule follower. And maybe I've learned to hide it a little better than I did at six or seven, but I still get a flash of righteousness whenever I see someone blatantly disregard a rule.
I have little use for people who don't obey traffic laws. Speeding is for losers. People who don't use their turn signals should be shot on sight. Speeding up to beat a red light? What a horrible person that must be.
There are few things that bring out my passive aggressive tendencies like someone who cuts line somewhere. "Oh no, YOU go right ahead." I think. "CLEARLY you are more important than the 30 people who have been waiting for a turn LIKE GOOD CITIZENS." But I only think it. Of course. Sixteen items in your basket in the "15 items or less" lane? Don't think for a minute that I'm not counting them silently to myself as you put them on the conveyer belt.
A few months ago I read an article about some McDonald's manager somewhere who called the police on a mom who refused to make her kids put on socks in the restaurant's Playplace. I don't remember all the details of exactly what happened, but I do remember the general tone of the comments, which was rousingly in the mom's favor to the tune of "Good for her!" and "It's MY choice about whether or not to put socks on my kids."
I beg to differ.
It IS totally your choice about whether or not to put socks on your kids - at home. Or a lot of places that don't have a no-sock rule. It's also your choice about whether or not to let your kids play in a McDonald's germ-covered-bug-infested-ketchup-smeared Playplace (I do let my kids go there occasionally, by the way, against my better judgement) but all my hairs were standing on end as I read comment after comment giving kudos to this mom for yelling and cursing at the manager there, who was, for all intents and purposes, just doing his job. Well, up to calling the police. That was a bit much, I think.
Maybe it's just my natural rule-following tendencies.
Maybe it's all the years I spent as a retail manager enforcing so many rules I lost count, even when I didn't really think they were smart or good or useful.
But really? Either play by the rules, or go home.
Is the "you must wear socks" rule a good one? I have no idea. I don't know it's origins or if there is some underlying reason for it or if some corporate bigwig just thought it up over a power lunch one day.
But I do know that it's not a rule I'm willing to risk possible arrest over.
My kids seem to be going in opposite directions on this "rule-following" business. Zachary has never met a rule he didn't try to find a way out of, around, or over. Cooper gets worked up over the littlest perceived deviations from what is "right," like if he sees me sit down at R's computer for a minute I will immediately get chastised. "Mama, that's DADDY'S 'puter. You NEVER use Daddy's 'puter. You unnerstan me?"
So yeah, I guess we've got some work to do on what the rules actually are, huh?
How about you? Are you a rule follower? A bit of a rebel? Something in between?