I am a rule follower.
I follow instructions.
I don’t alter recipes.
Breaking the rules has always caused me an immense amount of stress.
Each Christmas when my kids ask for Lego sets, I sit at the table with the instructions laid out in front of us and try to help them with their build. It’s usually disastrous. It takes only minutes for my kids to get bored. Just a few minutes more for the complaining to start and eventually I’m left sitting at the table alone with the Lego, trying to work through the instructions.
They hated it and I hated it.
Lego just isn’t their thing.
Or so I thought.
My daughter received Lego this Christmas.
Plain, old school Lego. Not a set. No Lego Friends Ice Cream Shop or Ninja Turtle Truck. Just plain old Lego bricks.
One quiet afternoon she pulled it all out and started to build.
She built a movie theatre with little figurines sitting in each seat looking at a big screen. She included a snack bar, an escalator and a treadmill (just in case they wanted to run while watching the movie).
I started cleaning up the table and pulled out the instructions that held different ideas for building and the moment she saw it she demanded I throw it away.
“Why?” I asked “There are lots of neat things you can build in here” I continued as I flipped through the booklet.
“Constructions are boring” she declared. “I just want to build.”
In that moment it hit me. It wasn’t the Lego that they didn’t like, it was being forced to build something specific. They wanted to use their imagination. They wanted to be creative. They didn’t want to be told what to build they just wanted to build.
I’ve been so busy teaching my kids to follow instructions and obey the rules that I completely forgot to show them that sometimes bucking the system is just as necessary.
Our kids live such structured and organized lives. Their spare time is full of organized activities and sports. Even their toys come with instructions on how they should be played with.
Sometimes our kids just want to play.
It was on this quiet and cold afternoon that my kids taught me a lesson; sometimes it’s not only okay to not follow the rules, but it can be absolutely necessary. It’s in these moments when they throw out the rule book that they will learn about themselves. It’s when they will discover their own strengths, talents and passions. I want them to have the courage to be themselves and I don’t want them to be afraid to do things differently.
I smiled as my son joined the Lego party and together my two kids built the most amazing and unique movie theatre. They laughed and suggested new and more elaborate ideas. They added a snack counter and big wide doors. They let their figurines try out the treadmill and made sure there was an escalator to get people up to the second floor.
I can’t wait to see what amazing things my kids come up with next. Without me influencing them with what they are supposed to do I’m so excited to see what path their little creative minds take them down.
I don’t know where my new found rebellion is going to take me but I know that learning to break the rules is going to be good for all of us. I have my kids to thank for this lesson.
Who knows, maybe soon I’ll stop stressing about my daughter wearing "Sunday" underwear on Monday.