I don't think I am an obsessive, unthinking rule-follower type of person who cheerfully follows the path laid out for her by wiser people who have gone before. (Those of you know know me can stop snorting up your sleeves now.) However, I have a healthy respect for sensible rules made in everyone's benefit.
I am not talking about halacha right now, which is in a different category; I'm talking about things like "Stop your car when the light is red, whether or not you can see anyone coming." True, there may not be a car there that you can see. But when you get behind the wheel of a car, I feel that you have entered into a social contract that says that you will stop at that red light anyway. Why? So that everyone else on the road knows that if you have a red light, You Will Stop, regardless of your personal feelings on whether or not it might be necessary.
Remember the mat room, that I mentioned in my last post? It has a sign on the door. The sign has five rules. Five. They are:
1. The Mat Room is for children aged three and under only.
2. Children must be accompanied by a caregiver at all times.
3. Shoes may not be worn in the Mat Room.
4. No food or drink in the Mat Room.
5. Please do not change or dispose of diapers in the Mat Room. Diaper changing facilities are available in the restrooms. [Which they are--both men's and women's.]
What is so hard about any of that? Is it so difficult to see why these rules are in everyone's interest? Think about it, please:
1. A kid over age three is a lot stronger and wilder than kids three and under--and much more capable of accidentally injuring the barely-crawling nine-month-old he didn't notice when he jumped off the side of the slide.
2. Kids are a lot more liable to get wild and crazy when unsupervised--and it is not the job of other parents who ARE supervising their kids to supervise YOUR kid when you go to work out and leave him/her alone in the mat room.
3. Getting kicked hurts a lot more when the foot that kicks you has a shoe on it. And what's that that just fell of your shoe that my baby just put in his mouth?
4. Food makes a mess. Oh, and that nice clean carrot stick your kid is eating? It's a choking hazard when he leaves it stuck under a foam block.
5. I really shouldn't even have to address this one.
To be fair I have never seen a diaper being changed in the mat room (although it is the one thing that I can see being most tempted to do--if you are following all the rules, and have more than one kid with you, you have to pull your older child away from his/her play to accompany you to the bathroom for a diaper change. But I do this anyway--who else is going to go get me the garbage can and love doing it?)
Barak, when he sees other children in the mat room, is thrilled, because he knows there will be wild times afoot. Me, I groan, especially if any of them is over the age of three. Yesterday, there was a (very overweight) five-year-old in there with shoes AND a whole Twix bar (meaning a whole package of Twix bars, meaning two of them). Who gives a kid a Twix bar at 4:30 PM, right before dinner? The last time we were there there was an eight-year-old--not there watching a younger sibling, but trying to tightrope-walk on the roofs of the little crawling houses. While babies were crawling underneath.
Grumble. Grumble grumble.
End of grumble. We like, appreciate, and are very grateful for the Mat Room--it is a nice place to play that does not require me to be anywhere that is a) cold or b) more than two minutes from a bathroom. When people follow the rules, it is fabulous. It would just be nice if everyone who used it--or I should say, everyone who brings its users--could read.
Back to work.