The Rule Keeper


Every so often, I find myself browsing job ads, thinking how lovely it would be to have someone else take care of paying me each month, rather than the rollercoaster ride of running my own business. 

Then, at some point, I remember that I am fundamentally unemployable. 

I'm not kidding, either. My editor once wrote in my performance appraisal, "Sally sometimes has issues dealing with authority figures." Since I was dating him at the time, I felt this was unfair and called him a tosser. He updated my appraisal to say, "Sally sometimes also has temper issues." 

Anyway, it's safe to say I've never been a big worrier about rules, especially if I think they're stupid. I suspect, though, my daughter hasn't inherited this trait. 

Today,  I dropped Flea off early to school – there's a breakfast club from 7.30am and since I've got a lot of work on this week, I thought having an extra hour in the office would be a good thing. 

So we got up, had some breakfast, made the drive to school and arrived at school at 7.45am. I got out of the car and looked down to find Flea by my side, looking worried and tearful. 

Immediately my working parent guilt came into play. Oh God, here I am, dumping my child into extended hours purely so I can earn a living. I am such a terrible parent. Clearly, she is devastated at being dropped off early, and really just wants to have our usual, slightly pathetic morning routine. 

I crouched down and gave Flea a big cuddle. "Darling, what's the matter?" 

Flea took a big breath in to steady herself and managed to whisper, "It's just that… I can't go to breakfast club." 

"Honey, why not?"

More tears. 

I start thinking. School doesn't open for another 45 minutes but I suppose we could just wait in the car. We could listen to Flea's new Harry Potter audio CD, maybe, but… I decide to give it one more go. 

"I thought breakfast club was fun. Why can't you go?" 

By this time there are fat tears rolling down Flea's cheeks. "I can't go to breakfast club because I've already had breakfast, and I'm not allowed another one, am I?" 

Oh dear.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Nikki
    22nd September 2011 / 10:24 am

    That’s so sweet Sally – bless her. I think my two are the same- very rules-based and get realy concerned if I try to bend the rules at all. Future traffic wardens in the making perhaps lol.

  2. 22nd September 2011 / 1:12 pm

    I do the same browsing for ‘proper’ jobs and then remembering why I don’t do one. I actually applied for one recently and was, in the end, very, very relieved not to be interviewed (though part of me was also very offended not to be interviewed, because why would anyone not want to employ me?).
    Rosemary makes up her own rules. Seriously. If she doesn’t want to do something she’ll come up with a rule that explains why she doesn’t have to. For the first week or two of term I didn’t make her go in and get all the things she’d forgotten (water bottle, cardigan, new reading book…), because she told me they were not allowed to and ‘Mrs X said it was very important not to come back into class after the day is finished.’ Until Chris picked her up and realised it was nonsense and checked with the teacher, then took her back in to get everything.

  3. 22nd September 2011 / 2:08 pm

    Oh, it’s so true! I recently asked my eldest to say he was six, when he’s actually still five (long story – may become a blog post). He looked sternly at me and said, ‘But Mummy, I’m only five. If I say I’m six that would be lying.’ Darn you rules. Darn you.

  4. 22nd September 2011 / 2:41 pm

    Bless her. Monkey is more rules based about school than anything. He’s started wearing black socks to school again after the head teacher said they should wear black grey or white socks. As he’s a boy in long trousers, I really don’t think anyone will notice if he wore pink spotty ones, the announcement was more aimed at girls who wear long socks or tights in rainbow colours.

  5. 22nd September 2011 / 7:17 pm

    OMG – we have more rules in this house than I’ve ever had in all my years of being in schools (as a child and as a teacher). I do something once, sit in a certain place, change into my sunglasses on the bottom step, give DD 2 sips of drink before putting the feeder lid on the cup, … and it becomes a rule. How can I get my daughter to disregard the rules? – I can’t stand this ultra-obedience!

  6. 23rd September 2011 / 8:46 am

    Awwwww poor Flea. It’s amazing how literally kids can take things sometimes isn’t it? Bless.

  7. 23rd September 2011 / 8:29 pm

    Aww bless, that is so sweet. Poor wee lamb. They do get worked up over something so trivial to us don’t they. xx

  8. 23rd September 2011 / 8:30 pm

    We can’t read and enjoy them all. I am reviewing a book which I cannot get into myself, so you have helped what I would post. x

  9. 26th September 2011 / 9:39 pm

    I struggle to see you having issues with authority?
    Really hope Flea loved her second breakfast!
    J x