When is a Rule not a Rule?

The first time I went clothes shopping with my newly acquired mother-in-law and sister-in-law I got a big shock. It turns out that there are perfectly nice people in my world who DON'T FOLLOW THE RULES!

On the fitting room door was the sign that said "Only 3 garments at a time". I dutifully picked 3 items out of my cart to take into the dressing room. The sound of their jaws dropping to the floor clued me in that something had happened. Disbelief and then laughter followed. The response was something like, "those rules don't mean us". I was in a bit of shock myself.

I have lightened up a bit over the years. I drive 5 miles over the posted speed limit (though I take that to be an unspoken rule), I have been known to put 16 items in the 15 item limit checkout line, ordered off the kids menu when my child was 6 months older than the cutoff point, and once didn't tell the hotel we had 3 kids instead of 2 because the room wouldn't let us have 5 occupants (of course the reservation clerk on the phone told me to do that). I let my kids take cell phones to school when the rule is no phones - because it has become the unspoken rule that's okay as long as you don't have them out in class.

The point is - I have not only bent the rules but have broken them too. I am no saint. But in general, I am a rules keeper.

It's getting harder to explain why to my kids. Are the rules really rules if they are being broken around you and there is no consequence?

I am not against questioning the rules. In fact, one of the main things my husband taught our kids is "everything is negotiable". In other words, if you don't like the answer - negotiate. And I think that's fine. We have been known to change our mind and the kids have learned how to put forth a well thought out presentation or argument for their case. They are learning to work within the system while working to change it.

Last week I heard about three hikers who fell to their death at Yosemite because they went past the railing that was there to protect them. Apparently they didn't think the rule applied to them. That's really sad.

I feel like most people around me think I'm either a goody-two shoes or an idiot (or maybe both). Maybe they are right. I generally assume that the rules are there for a good reason, and usually the only problem with a rule I don't like is that it keeps me from getting what I want at that moment. I can get over that.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law no longer laugh at me when we go shopping, they've gotten used to it and I've learned not to think that rule breakers are all going to "you know where". I think I'm going to continue "keeping the rules" as a general practice - it's just who I am.

Rule - a prescribed guide for conduct or action. Merriam-Webster.com