My friend Sam just turned 3. He's at that great age where there is so much exciting stuff to explore and when it gets too much you still have mom and dad to hold you. I met Sam nearly 3 years ago when his big sister became friends with my youngest daughter. Since then a baby brother has also joined the family. It's been a delight to watch Sam go from baby to toddler and now he's becoming his own little person. He's not quite a toddler, not quite a kid. He's at that perfect in between stage. Admittedly his independence is more fun for me than it is for his parents. I don't have to be the one correcting behavior or deal with the question "why" for hours on end. They do a great job and I do remember the days when I had 3 small kids to deal with, so I admire their Patience. I wish I had been more like them back in those days.
Anyway, Sam is fun for me. I get the good stuff. The games, the giggles, the smiles and an occasional hug without ever having to deal with any of the bad. I also get reminded that there is a joy in life that we sometimes forget to find as we get older. Everything is new and exciting to Sam. The puddle, the sand, a pretzel. As I watched him contemplate the joy of jumping in a puddle that he knew his parents wanted him to avoid I was struck by how much people miss out on. We become so hooked on the rules that we forget to think about if we should follow them or not. Very few of societies rules should be absolutes. I'm not talking about the law here, though you should sometimes question that too, I'm referring to the rules of behavior.
There are so many unwritten rules that govern our behavior in every day life. Simple things like facing forward in an elevator. Would your life be so much worse off it you turned to the person sharing this box with you, smiled and said "hello"? Will the world end if you have pasta for breakfast and pancakes for supper? Sometimes the smiles are to be found when you take leave of societies rules and follow your own instincts.
For the record, Sam walked through the puddle. His mom rolled her eyes and said "at least his shoes are fast drying." She's pretty good that way.