I wonder where my little apples will fall?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain.

“Societies needs rules that make no sense for individuals. For example, it makes no difference whether a single car drives on the left or the right, but it makes all the difference when there are many cars.” Marvin Minsky

I love both of these quotes. They both make sense. Yet they contradict each other. Now that sounds like the inside of someone’s mind… hmm, whomsoever’s mind could that be? Oh yes! That’s right… mine!

Okay folks, time for one of my random but far-too-frequent confusioning* of an opinion. (Oh, and the confusioning of opinion thing, that will have to be talked about at some stage I dare say as well… I mean how does one have five different opinions on the same topic within a two-hour period?)

Anyway, onto today’s topic.

Rules.

You see I have recently been fixing up the second draft of “Amara”, and realised that all her problems, every single one, has arisen from breaking the rules of her society. Trouble does not seek her out, the people around her are not destined to hurt her, but once she breaks a rule or two (or ten or twenty, or a thousand possibly in her case) the trouble is there, invited by her. Not only is trouble sitting at her doorstep, but the people around her end up breaking her heart, in an attempt to protect her from the consequences of breaking the rules.

Then there was this granny; a purple haired, gold layered, save-the-whales bag toting granny, who sighed at me in the shopping aisle this morning. Directly and rather pointedly, she shook her head and tsk tsked as I allowed my children to powerslide on a very empty, very shiny expanse of terrazzo. I figured there was no one around the area they were playing, no chance of hitting anyone right?

Doesn’t matter, little-old-lady didn’t like it, as she walked past my children she told them they should be standing next to me like good kids.

My kids are good kids, they do as I ask most of the time, but here was a strange little old lady telling them they weren’t. I watched my daughters five year old face turn from pure delight at being able to mess around with her brother for a few minutes to lip-trembling almost tears at being told off by a stranger, and only once the shopping bill had been finalised was I able to go and comfort her.

And who was to blame?

My daughter? No.

The little old lady? No

The guy sweeping the floor at the other end of the deserted centre? Hmm, possibly… he did make the floor clean, all the better for enhancing slippiness… but no.

I had to blame myself.

I blamed myself because I allowed it to happen. Were I a strict mother, more intent on following the rules of society (like don’t do things that little old ladies – or little old men, or anybody else really – would frown upon, don’t play air guitar in the middle of Kmart, don’t powerslide on the terrazzo, don’t play trolley races in the upstairs carpark, don’t dance on tables, don’t have fun in public, don’t laugh when you want to laugh, don’t cry when you want to cry, don’t be happy when you want to be happy and don’t – by all means don’t – let anyone know what you’re really thinking) it would never have happened. My daughter would have been standing by my side, prim and proper, her little pink bow perfectly straight and her brother’s curls each nicely laid in a uniform style, she would not have been told off by a stranger, and she would not have been very nearly in tears.

So it got me to thinking that perhaps, just to make things easier for them to blend into society, I should be imposing the rules that society lives by, upon them. You know, get them to drive on the same side of the road as the rest. Don’t get me wrong, they have rules – very strict rules at that… they use their manners (they are most often the only kids who remember to say thankyou and please and all the rest), they ask permission to leave the table at night, my five year old knows that people can get their feelings hurt and she is good at knowing how to not hurt people, they are caring, and loving, and they know right from wrong, but I guess I have forgotten to teach them that no matter how much fun something is, there will always be someone who disapproves.

My thoughts raged most of the morning between, “By golly these kids are gonna learn how to behave so they don’t have to put up with little-old-lady speeches,” to, “Stick them all, they were having fun, why should we stop the fun just because someone doesn’t approve.”

And here I am still hanging. Is it better to go along, conforming to the unwritten rules of society, perhaps stifling creativity and ambition, relinquishing any right to excitement and impulse, just to get along with the world? Or is it better to teach them to reach for the stars, dream their dreams, set their sails, and try for some fun in life, even though it may make some people nervous, even though they may have to put up with people taking their anxiety towards ‘different’ out on them? Should they go ahead and do the things they want to, so they will not regret the things they didn’t do in twenty years time?

And if you are now asking yourself these questions and your answer is, “yes, you should do as society expects,” will it really make your life easier. Will you be happy doing as others expect, or will you always be searching for some tiny rebellious loophole? And if that loophole doesn’t exist, will you ever have the freedom to chase your dreams?

And in the case of my children, what if I spend years teaching them what society expects of them, and then they end up like me anyway?

The apple never really falls far from the tree after all.

*I realise confusioning is not a real word, but I like it; in my world, it is a word that is used exceedingly.

“A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” John A Shedd.

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~ by Alissa Anderton on August 16, 2010.

8 Responses to “I wonder where my little apples will fall?”

  1. Stupid old lady was jealous that she never got to slide along the floor when she was 5! Coz that was unheard of back in her day.. Kids were seen, not heard! I reckon she wanted to get down and join in so bad! She will die miserable & ur kids will live the next 80 years happy & looking at other kids doing the same thing & saying “I remember my mum letting us do that, it was so much fun!

  2. Maybe you have just done the slide thing yourself after she told you kids off. Of course, I would have likely told the old lady that I teach my children NOT to listen to strangers. 🙂

    PS – I am pretty much a rules guy – but don’t mess with my kids

    • haha, Barry, I certainly did give that little old lady a show afterwards… although it involved a trolley, some loud singing and less knee’s sliding on the floor action… lol

  3. Societies are complicated things, with all kinds of contradictory rules and expectations depending on who you talk to. Thus, whatever you do, you’re breaking what somebody considers a rule. One rule most people I know try to follow is “mind your own business and don’t be an irritating self-righteous busybody,” a rule which that old lady broke rather badly.
    You and your kids, on the other hand, weren’t breaking any rules that I or most people I know would recognize. Of course, there are societies where there’s one set of rules and expectations that everybody’s expected to follow at all times, but they’re generally dictatorships. To live in a democratic, pluralistic society, on the other hand, means you’ve got, to some extent, to make your own choices about what the proper rules and expectations are.
    Hmmm…some people might say there’s a rule about not leaving endless rambling boring comments on blogs of people you don’t know but just happened to see at Blog Catalog. Ah well…consider me guilty….

    • LOL, glad you broke that rule…

      Breaking rules doesn’t matter so much, as long as you are being entertaining whilst you do it!!

  4. I think we should most definitely have fun when and where we can, ESPECIALLY as children, because there are far too many serious times in life. Bah. Slide along the floors, I say! When there’s no one in the aisles of the supermarket I spin the trolley in circles, even if I don’t have a child in it. 😉

  5. That *lady* is a stuppid! I love this faces ( kids) ♪. ♫♥♪.♫♥♪. ♫♥♪.♫♥
    Are just wonderful and lovely! I love all the children in this world – *Don’t mess with me lady! * :))

    Dy,

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