My FinFam cuzzints and I always like to say that the only rule we had growing up on the moominbeach was, “WE DON’T THROW SAND!” Every kid in multiple generations of our family has experienced a grown-up (or two or five — takes some people longer to “get it” than others, I guess) expressing that rule in a vociferous manner. Why? Have you ever gotten sand in your eyes? That’s why.
Of course, it’s not true that we only had that one rule. What is true is that we had rules about things that were important, not frivolously created, overzealously enforced rules. You know the kind, rules that are made for the sake of making rules. When your dwelling is between a Great Lake and a swamp, you can’t have small children wandering off or going swimming whenever they feel like it. So you have some rules. If you want to go swimming, you ask an adult to watch you. The thing is, I don’t remember that it was *ever* a problem to get an adult to watch us swim. Not ever. I can remember The Commander sitting on the beach wearing a winter jacket watching us swim on a 50-degree windy day or whatever. The Comm and my aunts were always at the ready or a McNott mom or our friend Barb down the beach if we were playing with their kids that day. Probably my grandma when we were young. When it got to be my turn to be an adult, I spent uncountable hours down there watching G4 swim. I am the best head counter ever. I loved those days. Although there were times when I didn’t think I would ever get a Pbreak. No text messaging in those days. 4G on the beach was just a gleam in Steve Jobs’s eyes. But of course, I could also do beachP in Gitchee Gumee.
I guess there were grammar rules too. I have said in this space a few times that if you were a child of The Commander and you wanted to say the word “ain’t”, you had better be over in the schoolyard or somewhere she couldn’t hear you say it. She knew that the kids (and their parents) in our south-side Siberian neighborhood didn’t use Proper English Grammar but I’m not sure she understood that if you were a *kid* in that neighborhood, you needed to “relax” your regular grammar in order to fit in. That kind of training did not let up in the summer but I didn’t have to break the rules to fit in because all of my cuzzints were also fluent in Proper English.
And then there were the Plant Rules. This is what you can pick. This is what you can pick and *eat*. This is what you cannot pick (or eat). I write business rules for a living and the ones I just wrote only hint at the complexity of this! We could pick and eat blueberries, wintergreen berries, service berries (sugar plums), and the occasional wild strawberry. We could pick some of the more prolific wildflowers and The Comm often did. Snakeberries are blue (like blueberries) but they are poisonous and we were taught the difference early. We were taught NOT to pick certain plants like Lady Slippers (photo) or Indian Pipes. That was because they were RARE!
Oh, there were a few sneaky little rules that got instituted because parents (and grandparents) needed to catch a bit of a breather. When I was a kid, there was the whole “wait an hour after eating to go swimming”. What us kids were told was that we would get a big stomach cramp! Not true, but it gave our parents a little time to wash the dishes, etc. Then there was the 3:00 Snack, which The Comm instituted (with a big wink) when her four beloved granddaughters would clamor for food just about every single second throughout the afternoon. It actually worked pretty well.
What’s my point? Do I have a point? I do but I’m not sure how to express it. I guess the point is that our rules were delivered with love and gentle explanations for why they existed. There were and are good reasons for the rules we had and no one was ever “crucified” for breaking any of them. Mostly we followed them because we understood the reasons behind them.
Whatever you do, do NOT THROW SAND! WE DON’T DO THAT!
I did not take the photo. The GG sent me the Lady Slipper photo from somewhere around wherever he and The UU are camping with the Lyme Lounge. I think they are by the Jordan River. No Lady Slippers in the Landfill Backyard but my impatiens are absolutely gorgeous and there are birds everywhere.
P.S. No, I don’t really like Keb Mo more on Prairie Home but at least all of the time he spends walking around deciding which guitar to use for each song has been edited out.