Bursting beyond the boundaries
When she rides her bike, she'll amble along for a bit beside you, but then she'll thrust forward in a burst of speed, eager to be independent and out front. Her legs pump furiously, her bike a blur of pastel, the pink and purple streamers straight out from her handle bars. Her world is one of rules: stop and wait, look for cars, stay with us, don't get too far ahead, need to leave on time, sit quietly at your desk...a seemingly neverending list. But in that moment, she is motion and air and nothing more, boundaries are falling as far behind her as her parents. She already dreams of the day when she has her own house. She aches for the time that she owns her own life, and her mother aches to never tell her that this time--childhood---is the best she'll get of that. The freer you are, the more you owe elsewhere.
Her teacher says her greatest asset is her sense of fairness, and that this normally quiet child will speak out loudly against injustice. In fact, the teacher said in a conference once, "I'd never heard her speak at all until one day she told one child to be kind to another one."
"There is no bullying in this classroom," the teacher told her parents, "So long as she is on the job." In a quieter aferthought, the teacher added, "You can't get away with any inconsistency or inequity, either." Her parents know this, and also that it's not exactly meant admiringly. They know already all too well how some people might miss inequity until it is pointed out to them, and generally, people don't like to notice it.
She suffers, this child, with her scales and measures. Her heart is tender and kind, easily bruised, but it is also strong, which it needs to be to play in concert with her fierce drive for justice. There is a need for her in this world, but she aches fulfilling it, and her mother aches to know the cost her Robin Hood genes will extract in her life.
No light shines brighter, though, than the torch in this child's soul.
She watches people break the rules and pay different prices for it, or none at all. She sees that not everyone is held to the same rules, or not held in the same way to the rules. So far, she is only catching the little things: somebody took a friend's bike, her sister has more dresses, the pancakes are different sizes, Mom has the chipped glass, Girl A always gets picked first in school yard games, Boy B gets in trouble every day but Boy C is just as naughty but never gets caught. So far, she is only noticing the surface actions. She aches to understand these differences and aches more to right the wrongs. Her mother aches in unhappy expectation of the day when the girl begins asking more why and less what and how, but aches more for the day when the girl quits asking why.
Her mother knows all too well how unlikable unfairness can be. She knows that most people don't allow themselves to get worked up over injustice, and thus can't allow others to, either. It's a cat in a canvas bag, the feeling---feeling a burn of injustice and knowing the binding of expectation to not get twisted knickers.
And so...she aches with and for this child, who sees the rules all too clearly, much too clearly for her own good. Often lacking her own answers, she is at a loss for how to explain it to her questioning child. There is only one thing to say sometimes, "Life's just not fair, baby. Fair isn't really a state of being, it's more a place you visit sometimes, like to ride a Ferris wheel. All you can do is be grateful for the good, and keep it in mind more."
The rules of the game
Do you follow them? Do you break them? Do you pay attention to them, and how others use or abuse them? What rules matter to you and which ones will you break?
Tell us what you think of rules...and what happens when we do and don't follow them...
Note: The title is inspired by a Thoreau quote, although I always found him a bit impractical and thought Emerson had the better way of it.
"Any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it."
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American naturalist, poet and philosopher.
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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