In the last week I’ve discovered that I’m the kind of person who likes to follow the rules. You wouldn’t have thought it if you witnessed me being forced to sit year 10 exams in the library lest my coloured hair distract my classmates (it was summer and the air con in the library was far superior so it was hardly a punishment) but the older I get, the more I appreciate rules.
This realization dawned on me on Monday when I was buying socks for the boys so they could play on the indoor play centre thing in the Target complex. It was nudging 40 degrees in the shade. But the rules are that ‘no shoes’ are to be worn on the play equipment and that ‘socks must be worn at all times’. So there I was jamming their hot and sweaty little feet into socks before I let them out of the pram and onto the play equipment. None of the other kids had socks on. And their parents didn’t seem to mind. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind either. But I could relax in the knowledge that just in case the play centre police (I don’t even know who keeps an eye on such things) came in, we’d be fine.
Then I started thinking about all the other rules (real and imagined) that I follow:
- The speed limit. Maybe I creep a couple of clicks above but never anything too serious. This is probably the legacy of having three brothers and sister in law who are all cops; the shame of a traffic misdemeanor is too great.
- I really do ‘keep left unless overtaking’ and I find it infuriating when others do not.
- I’m quite the avid recycler and ensure that I always wash the containers and take the lids off (apparently the machines can tell if a lid is on and they think it’s full and then it doesn’t get recycled).
- I don’t run at the best of times but I definitely don’t run on concrete at the pool and I attempt, mostly in vain, to stop the boys from running there too.
- I don’t take food or drink into a shop. Even if I’m not actually eating it.
- I never litter and cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would.
- I get my car serviced whenever the sticker tells me to.
- When walking, I always face oncoming traffic.
- I strictly adhere to the ‘seatbelts’ sign on air craft and don’t even attempt to turn my phone on. I also have no idea what ‘flight’ mode is or whether it really matters but it’s best not to risk these things.
- I’ve never illegally downloaded anything. Come to think of it, I’ve never legally downloaded anything either.
I’m not sure if following these rules has kept me safe, enriched my life or made me a better citizen or whether my need to stick to the rules has made me an uptight ball of anxiety, but I think I like rules. Sometimes. I don’t like rules that the Government makes about things like how we treat people seeking asylum and that sort of stuff; but I’m generally OK with the nitty gritty rules that are probably just a plain annoyance to other people.