I’m a bit of a rules follower. Mind you, I’m a creative, disorganized rules follower, but a rules follower all the same. I got this trait honest from my mama and I’ve passed it on to my oldest daughter, who in kindergarten refused to read her sight word books in the afternoon because her teacher said to read them “at night.” You have to watch what you say to us rule followers: we take things literally.
Being a change-resistant rules follower plays out for me like this:
- I drove a sweet baby blue Mazda hatchback in college. My dad once told me not to push the little button on the right side of the gear shift. To this day, I don’t know what that button does, because of course, I never touched it. Once Brian reached over to push it and I shrieked, “DON’T TOUCH THAT!”, fully expecting the car to combust upon contact. When he looked at me like I was a crazy person and asked why, I channeled my inner Liam Neeson and warned, “Just. Don’t.”
- We used the envelope system for a while—the one where you divide up your cash in an envelope that’s been partitioned into various categories such as groceries, eating out, and Old Navy. I didn’t dare borrow from one category to pad another because Dave Ramsey said not to, and I was not about to disappoint Dave.
- When my Body Attack instructor yells, “Knees up!”, I basically hit myself in the nose with my very own knees, because JILL SAID. (By the way, I find way too much of my identity in my Body Attack performance. When the instructor shouts, “Yes, Jennifer! Just like that!” I live off of that affirmation for a week. Burn dinner again? JILL THINKS I’M SPECIAL. Kids out of control? JILL SAYS I’M GREAT. SHE EVEN YELLED IT INTO A MICROPHONE. It’s a problem.)
- I grew up in the age of planners—as in, pen and paper calendars that you use to organize your life. It was drilled into me that you write everything down, so I resisted hard when my husband wanted me to switch to the calendar app on my phone. I finally caved to his bullying, and this had nothing to do with the fact that I kept losing my planners and double-booked us on a daily basis. My husband regretted it, though, when I accidentally posted our whole family schedule onto his company’s website. His co-workers wanted to know why they all had to take my oldest child to the orthodontist. They also wondered why they had to give some kid named Luke a ride to school.
- Shark week and YouTube have taught me that the deep, deep ocean is a no-no for humans. We don’t belong there, obviously. So when my whole family wanted to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef as a part of our bucket list of things to accomplish in Australia before we move back to the States, surprise! I was not in. I equate floating in the middle of the ocean with plane crashes and shark bait. Why would I plop myself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific? What thinking human would do that? All the books say to avoid plane crashes AND shark attacks, so it makes no sense to travel to said reef, no matter how much it claims to be a wonder of the world.
- I had a conniption fit when my husband called us an Uber during our vacation to the above mentioned Great Barrier Reef. (Yes, we did go. I was overruled). You guys. UBER. Need I say more? How many after school specials told us not to get in the car with strangers? How many policemen visited our schools and talked us out of doing this very thing? But now, because an app has been created, along with a square silver sticker strategically placed on the back of anyone and everyone’s car, suddenly it’s okay for us to hitch a ride with a potential psychopath? This is madness. (Side note: During my “heightened” emotional state over this whole Uber situation, my 14 year old chided, “Don’t be too cold to the driver, mom. You have to be polite.” A humble mom would have said, “You’re right. I’m being ridiculous.” Other moms might have stuck their tongue out at him. I was one of the two.)
As much as I don’t like breaking what I feel like are the rules for life, reality has pushed me past my comfort zone time and again and has forced me to adapt. I don’t use the envelope system anymore (forgive me, Dave!) and I’ve embraced the electronic calendar. I actually loved the Great Barrier Reef and not even a toe got nibbled by a shark. We endured not one but three Uber rides, and nobody died.
But still, under no circumstances will I ever push that little button on my gear shift, and I will continue to pummel my knees to the sky at Body Attack because I just can’t give up that steady stream of affirmation shouted over a PA system. It’s a rule follower’s dream.
Any fellow rules followers out there? What’s the craziest rule you hold yourself (and others) to?