Rule Following Rule Followers

I have two kids. Specifically I have three and a half year-old twins. They are difficult and amazing and challenging and wonderful and 502 other adjectives that I won’t list here.

One of my daughter’s current favorite things to do is to look at you and say, “Let’s play” and then she’ll fill in the name of a game–but not a game you’ve ever heard of it. It’s never “Let’s play tag” but rather “Let’s play whales!” Less “Let’s play hide-and-seek” and more “Let’s play gobbledygook!” (That last one is a real example.)

The interesting part is the difference between the response of my husband/me and her twin brother. Because whenever she says, “Let’s play lions,” the adults say, “Okay. How do you play lions?” Whereas her brother will immediately drop to all fours and roar.

I’m in the process of deciding what to do next as a writer. It feels like deciding between different versions of myself–not to mention the gaps between what seems to make me happy versus the vague, amorphous rules that exist out in space. The rules about how you get your career from one level to the next level. The rules for how to have a career at all. The rules about the market. The rules about marketing. So many suggestions and guidelines and lists and limits!

When I look at my kids, the amazing part is that never once has my son responded to my daughter’s suggestion that they play something but saying, “How?” and never has she apprised his response with, “No, that’s not right.” Because there aren’t any rules beyond play itself.

I’m not saying three and half year-olds have it all figured out. But worrying about the rules themselves can paralyze you. Just roar.

4 thoughts on “Rule Following Rule Followers

    1. This post is generating so many lyrical connections. There’s probably another post to be written about why writers–who seem like an anarchist group–are so susceptible to rule-making. Maybe that’ll be next week’s post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.