Life Lesson #2 From Camel’s Hump from Janet Given's Blog, Janet Givens asks,
“What’s your position on rules?”
I grew with parents who saw things in black and white and so I was pretty literal when dealing with the rules. I believed I had to follow the rules exactly or else. I’m not sure what I thought or else was other than losing my parent’s love. Now that I’m an adult looking back, I should have realized that was the one thing that I never had to worry about.
Then when I went away to college and I was on my own, I enjoyed testing the limits and getting right on the edge of the rules. I enjoyed the freedom and learning that rules were not necessarily a straight line but had a stretch of gray area in the middle. I tended to go 10 miles over the speed limit and thinking the odds were good that I wouldn’t get a ticket. I stayed out partying with my friends since I didn’t live at home and the world did not fall apart. I was happy with an occasional B grade and didn’t beat myself over the idea of not getting all As. (I confess to really only getting one B but I felt like that was pretty rebellious!).
Then I became a teacher and worked with students from different backgrounds. These students were living a life that I never imagined. Yet, they were surviving the best way they could. Suddenly the rules were so black or white or even gray. There were rules about dealing with students that somehow went against reasonable common sense. We were told that if students owed money to the cafeteria for more than 5 days, we couldn’t loan them any more money. I just couldn’t comprehend going hungry and bought many students a lunch with my own money. I was told not to give students my home number but when I found out that their parents couldn’t read or write, who else could they call for help with their homework?
Then I became a mother. I remember all those things my mother said to me that I swore I would never say. The phrase “never say never” really applies to real life! I can hear myself repeating many of the things she said to me. I was told by many people the “right” way to raise children and tried to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother by doing all the perfect things. That is the “rule” about mothering right? Needless to say, this never happened and I found that I had to do what was right for our family.
So, now I think I see rules as depending on the circumstances. If the rules are laws and by breaking them, I would end up in jail, I will definitely follow the rules. If the rules are just guidance from others, then I need to work out the best rules that work for me and those involved. But I think it took experience to get to this point and I don’t see how I could have skipped the steps to get here.
So, how do you feel about rules? Please share.