I felt like a little kid today in the library when I took a break from (home)work to have a snack, only to be scolded by the librarian.

“I’m sorry, but there’s no eating in the library.”At first I was annoyed. I’ve never liked people telling me what to do. And then I realized that I really was the one out of line. In the US, I have learned to avoid noisy wrapped snacks and to chew quietly.

But as I walked slowly towards the trash can, savoring my last few bites of apple, I was struck by a well-thought-out coffee corner. It even had a sign announcing its presence.

“Hmmm,” I thought. That could spill.

I finished my apple, threw out the core, and headed back to my desk.

Not more than 15 minutes could have passed before a second librarian stopped by, specifically to let me know that the library offered free coffee and tea “if I’d like”.

I bet there were planning meetings about where that table should go, what types of coffee and tea the library would provide, whether or not they would also offer milk. Someone thought about where there was an accessible outlet to plug in that machine that boils the water (Do those things have a name?), and the fancy coffee maker that uses all those wasteful plastic cups. Someone figured the cost into the budget.

I know that it crossed someone’s mind that liquid spills because there’s a sign on the trash can (where I threw out my apple) that kindly requests that you NOT throw cups with liquid in them directly into the trash. Not sure where, exactly, you’re supposed to dispose of the liquid, as there is no sink around – only stacks and stacks of books, and open laptops. I guess if they spill they’re empty anyhow.

I don’t know that I’ll fight to change the no food in the library rule, but I don’t feel a bit guilty enjoying a cookie with my coffee that they’ve so generously provided. It’s the soft kind, so I’m not even spilling crumbs.

I’ve never been much of a rule follower and, honestly, I don’t really want to raise boys who do what everyone tells them to “because” and who follow blindly. I want them to use their minds and fight for what makes sense.

How do we teach our boys when it makes sense to follow rules, and when there’s wiggle room? After all, there are definitely rules that should NOT be broken. Like, for instance, no shoes in the house “EVEN IF THEY’RE BRAND SPANKING NEW AND HAVE NEVER TAKEN A STEP OUTSIDE!”