Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Rules of Life

Lately I’ve done a lot of listening. I’m deep in the heart of tomato season and with over 100 pounds of tomatoes canned and at least that many to go, I don’t dare predict a finish line. My legs ache and my feet throb from standing for hours at a time peeling, seeding, chopping tomatoes (and herbs, onions, peppers, etc.).  

Sometimes while I work, I listen to Pandora, but this is a maddening exercise because my hands are too covered in glop to press the thumbs down button when a song I don’t like comes on. My musical tastes are sporadic and varied and creating my own station is a lengthy progress. Somehow, my channel skipped on to a whiny woman/man (couldn’t tell for the nasally voice) and I had no choice but to endure. Now that lovely sound is entrenched and the station is nearly ruined. 

When I turn the music off, the house becomes my entertainment. I can hear my daughter in her bedroom playing her guitar and working out a new melody. I hear the cats arguing over the lounge chair that is my laundry basket. I can even hear one of the new young hens when she makes the distinctive “I’ve just laid one!” announcement up in the chicken house. 

Mostly I hear my younger son and his friends in the living room discussing the rules before they begin their latest nerf battle. This intrigues me. They spend easily twice as much time arguing over the rules as they do actually shooting each other. And then the game has frequent pauses while they argue even more over who is actually dead and who is just “gassed”.  

I can’t help but giggle. This seems like rehearsal for future congressmen. My older son comes in the kitchen and asks why I’m laughing. When I tell him, he smiles and says the rule making is part of the fun. We listen together and laugh conspiratorially at the ridiculousness of the whole activity. Finally, I can take it no longer and call a halt to the war with the peace offering of lunch. Seems food trumps fighting. At least for now. 

After they are fed and dispensed to the woods to begin a new battle, I have time to reflect upon their behavior. It’s very human. We seem to thrive on rules and regulations. Keeps everyone and everything in its place.  

I was talking with a friend from a neighboring state about taking treats in to our children’s classrooms for a birthday. I told her I was going to make “magic wands” (pretzels dipped in chocolate and sprinkles) and she was horrified at the idea. How can anyone be opposed to homemade chocolate anything? It wasn’t the product she worried about, it was the idea of taking something “not packaged”. What if there are germs? I’m sure there are. But I’m guessing that the germs on my magic wands are much better for children than any kind of artificially flavored and colored concoction that comes in a package. 

Seems other states have rules about these sorts of things. They don’t allow unpackaged food to be brought in to the classrooms. Thank God, Pennsylvania hasn’t thought of that rule yet. 

I believe that men have a larger propensity for rule making. Take sports. What man can’t argue for hours about the rules of his favorite sport? And sitting at any organized ballgame, be it professional or amateur or even little league, who hasn’t listened to men debate an umpire’s take on a particular rule or a coaches ability to interpret a rule. Frankly, it’s exhausting, all this rule making. 

As a mom, I get to make rules on a daily basis. My rules, for the most part, are bendable. I am a fair dictator. I must admit having rules makes my life easier. It’s much less taxing to say, “That’s the rule” than to listen to the explanation and make an exception.  

But exceptions to the rules are what make life bearable (and interesting).  

I think we must be careful when we make rules. I believe the less rules the better. All encompassing rules are the best ones. Rules like “Respect each other,” cover a multitude of situations. It is not respectful to shoot nerf darts at your sibling when he is still sleeping. Telling your brother he is an idiot as the parting phrase of every encounter is not respecting him. Playing your drums or your bass guitar at 7am is not respectful of slumbering family members. Monopolizing the bathroom for longer than 30 minutes, borrowing shoes without asking, forgetting to give a phone message – all not respectful. Putting the empty milk container back in the fridge – again not respectful. (OK, maybe that’s stretching the rule a little.)  

I think the Respect-each-other rule should be a world-wide rule. Think of how much better things would be. There would be no invading of other countries, no suppressing rights, no intolerance, no discrimination. I think we should make it the 11th commandment. Although when Jesus said, “love thy neighbor as yourself,” I think he was basically saying, “Respect each other.” There’s no such thing as love without respect. It’s a basic ingredient. 

A little later in the day I found the boys playing a game of Blokus in relative peace. Sometimes it’s nice to have all the rules laid out in black and white. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from arguing over who ate the rest of the cheezits or who cut the last fart, clearly stated rules can only take you so far.




1 comment:

  1. Great post, Cara. I've been telling my kids for years, Respect is more important than rules, but we still have to have the rules.

    Good luck with your tomatoes!