Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Rules

My boys are something else, I tell ya.

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.


J. No said...

And in that case, the monsters will strongly resemble our kids.

Of course, I don't have any so what am I saying?

"If you don't beat 'em, the police will."

Elizabeth a.k.a. Liz said...

that is so funny - I do remember making rules... it's like - you can only open your eyes if .... you've held your breath under water for 10 seconds then you swim backwards! And if you do it right you can treat yourself to a raspberry! ha! Or... one real one we did - you can't take a breath when you go by a cemetary until you see a white house! Which really stinks in Manch-vegas because the cemetaries are so stinkin long. lol! Some kid definitely made that rule up. k - loved spending time with you in t-town. Come vist us up here when you get bored ;)

Rachel said...

Good post. I agree. Especially with what j. no said, the monsters will stongly resemble our kids. I like that. Have a great weekend.

pushypaws said...

Interesting thoughts, and I would like to take it a couple steps further - in 2 directions. Our interpretations may be a bit different, but I think the "heart" is the same.

1st - I agree - children absolutely want boundaries, for a very good reason. They know there is safety in boundaries. So, God's rules are for our good (safety) as well as His glory. In that sense, the boys were on the right track (i.e. safety) - they just had no idea who or what they needed to be safe from and no clue about how to make intelligent rules.

2nd - adults still want(and need) boundaries, even though our society has been literally "hell-bent" on teaching that you should do whatever makes you feel good - it's way too much like "every man did what was right in His own eyes." Judges 17:6 Makes you wonder about our courts and law officials - the ones who are supposed to support and enforce the rules. I can't help but think of the the congress woman who slugged the capitol police officer, but it turns out that because she's a congress woman, somehow it was OK - there were no consequences for her.

The "monsters" are definitely inside each of us - rebellion really is bound in the heart of a child ...and then in the adult ... and then in the society. Ignore The Rules and the monsters will eventually get you!

We may not all agree on the interpretation of all the rules, but I'm fairly certain we can agree that way too many in our nation have even thrown out the heart of the rules. After all, when a nation decides that you can't display the 10 Commandments in Public places, (and how much more fundamental than that can you get?)it's a pretty good indicator of what kind of boundaries a people are willing to accept.

Like the boys (and how cute are they for coming up with WalMart monsters!?), an awful lot of grown up people still don't know who the monsters are and have lost the "art" of how to make intelligent boundaries. There are consequences. "He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." Prov. 25:28

Kim said... mean you DON'T step on certain tiles at WalMart?

Uh oh.....

The only Monster I get hit with when i go into WalMart is the Cookie Monster.

He calls, I follow.....