Does anyone else out there have a kid who is way too concerned with “the rules”? Mushroom is one of those kids. It’s one of the reasons I know that school would just kill his spirit. In school there are so very many rules, many of them without a clear reasoning, and at many schools, without any reason at all. Yet they would all be important to Mushroom and he would waste a whole lot of brain space trying to follow them to the letter and feeling upset when other kids didn’t do the same.
I don’t know where this comes from exactly. It’s the worst at pools, where they post the rules on large signs. Soon, he’ll be able to read them clearly for himself (no more of me fudging what they say) and I dread that day. If he’s finishing chewing a bite of something on the escalator into the Metro, he looks around in fear like the police are about to cart him off.
I try to discourage it, in particular by only having rules and setting boundaries that have clear reasons and by encouraging him to think through things. Rules are good. It makes sense that we shouldn’t eat in the Metro. However, does it make sense that we can’t finish chewing? What makes me sad is when it becomes paralyzing to him. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened yesterday.
On our way out of town, we went to Discovery Theater to see a show called Eric Energy, which dovetailed nicely with our science curriculum. The performer used lots of kids from the audience and the first volunteer was BalletBoy. There he is holding a blow dryer on stage.
Well, Mushroom was disappointed not to be picked. As the show went on, he felt more and more sad that he hadn’t been picked but his twin brother had (and not for the first time recently – Miles got to play Little John at the Renaissance Festival). He held it together, but then at the end, there was an opportunity for him to go up and be on stage at the end. I urged him forward, but he got too concerned about those rules. Was it really okay? Could he really go up there with the line of kids? Could he really do it? He never worked it out for himself, despite my urging, and he missed out. Instead of being a fun experience, the whole thing ended with tears.
One of the things I want is for my kids to seize the moments and opportunities they’re presented with. It made me so sad that he couldn’t do it and now I’m left wondering how to help encourage him to be more of a risk taker and not just wait for opportunities to be handed to him. Maybe this whole rules thing will work out for him in the end. I guess it could be useful if one wanted to become a lawyer.