Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rules be damned....

It took me a long time to get to this point. Decades, in fact.

I grew up in a military family. Rules were king. Authority was to be followed. Period.

Questioning authority and rules, or convention of any kind, was taboo in my house. And then I discovered that the edges of rules could be pushed outward, and if done with a smile and good grace, those edges didn't crack. Convention can be questioned, if for no other reason than to learn why something is done one way when it no longer makes any sense to do so.

My predicament is that I come into contact with a lot of children. I stand in front of them and teach them things like how to get your best friend to stop gossiping about you in the locker room without simply punching her out. Or how to get adults to JUST LISTEN to you. (That's a tough one when so many parents and teachers act like they don't even LIKE kids. Go figure....)  So, it's a very thin line between respecting the rules, understanding that some of them are rigid, yet knowing how to stretch the rest of them with good judgment.

But as I matured into my own skin I learned how to do it. I discovered how to speak up. And I began to tap on the sides of the rule and other precepts, all with a smile. I discovered that I didn't have to actually BREAK it; I sometimes could simply ask for what I wanted.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that most people are more than willing to oblige me.

My 85-year old mother looks at me with horror when I do this in public. She has spent her entire life following the rules, and then I break out with a "But I would rather have it THIS way" statement in a business or other public venue. "It's not on the menu but I would like......" totally flumoxed her in a fine dining establishment one evening. Such simple requests. So easy to do, especially after experiencing success a few times.

It can't be a bad thing to teach kids, can it? I've done it with my own daughter since she was old enough to understand that Mom isn't really crazy. And my reward has come as I see her speak up for what she wants, rule be damned. We don't always get what we want but we are heard. Such things have changed the world, haven't they?

"The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives."
Anthony Robbins

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