Today I was doing a light shopping (read: one cart full), and my friend Heather gave me a hand and kept the girls for me. So it was just me and the boys. Asher had fallen asleep in the van, and continued to snore through the entire mundane adventure. Very nice. I'll take it.
Before we hit the list, the boys got themselves a "coke" (Southern for "soda" or "pop", and has NOTHING to do with the red can at all). Noah picked something caffeinated, and Caleb chose something caffeinated with some carbonation thrown in for looks. What a treat for them. IF they get soda, it's Sprite or the like-----i.e. NO CAFFEINE. But Caleb spent his own money this time, so I let them pick.
What it DID, is kept those two busy for almost the entire time we were in the store.
Between sipping and discussing the bold, refreshing taste of pure "hyper in a can", they were all but ignoring me. Which made my job a lot more peaceful and less time consuming.
But I couldn't keep myself from overhearing their little discussions. They weren't constantly talking about the sodas or the cans, but they were also having really in-depth conversations about random things:
And I remember doing this as a kid. Remember in Grampa's pool, Liz? We would decide what tricks could be done at what spot, and how you climbed the ladder, and that you had to hold your breathe for 6 seconds after jumping into the deep end. I mean, totally random, utterly meaningless, and relatively stupid rules. But they kept us busy ALL DAY. They dictated everything we did within that time and space. And they changed the NEXT time we were at the pool. New day, new rules.
Well, the boys were doing the same thing.
Noah: "So you can't put your foot on that tile over there. You have to only use the ones right behind the cart."
Caleb: "Yeah, and if you step on those over there, the monster comes out and gets you. So you have to stay where the cart protects you."
Noah: "But he doesn't eat you."
Caleb: "No, he just throws you around a bunch."
Noah: "Right. And if you need to REALLY be protected, then you stand on the part of the cart on the bottom. And he can't touch you then."
Caleb: "Yeah Yeah! But not when the Walmart guys are watching, cuz we're not allowed to stand on the carts."
Noah: "Oh, then we'll have to duck down if we're standing on the sides, right?"
Caleb: "Mmmm Hmmmm."
Perfectly logical nonsense.
You know, I don't think kids make up rules for nothing.
I think it's built into them. It's part of a child's makeup, this thing with rules. See, I didn't instigate this game the little guys played. I didn't suggest it. They came up with it themselves. They HAD FUN making and following rules.
So why do parents have such a hard time making and following rules when it involves their children? Why do we cringe when it comes time to "lay down the law"? Why do we think we're being too strict because we put boundaries on our children's behavior?
Because they pitch a fit? Because they don't necessarily fall in line?
I dare say it's because many parents are not willing to put the time into enforcing "the rules". It's much easier to allow a child the freedom to dictate their own set of guidelines, then to raise the bar and expect more out of that child. And then, not to mention, follow through and demand that they adhere to them-----or suffer the consequences. That's a lot of work for a parent.
But as anyone can see from the rules my boys concocted for themselves, children cannot make rules that will dictate logical and socially acceptable behavior. Nevermind teach them to be mindful, courteous, productive members of society. I'm sorry, but "Monster Rules" just don't hold water in the real world.
And unfortunately, in today's society, that's just the kind of perfectly logical nonsense so many parents think will raise their children.
I, for one, am scared of the long term effects of such thinking.
Moral of the story?
Children can handle rules. It's up to us to make them and teach them how to adhere to them.
Anything less, and we may ALL have to walk on certain tiles at Walmart someday.