There’s following the rules, and then there’s following the rules creatively.
A few days ago a conversation with my daughter reminded me of one of my favorite memories from a family trip some years ago. My late husband and I, with the three youngest kids, flew in his small plane to visit relatives in Michigan. A six-hour trip with only one brief stop for food and fuel, it wasn’t the most exciting mode of travel even for kids who were good travelers. The plane was too noisy for comfortable conversation, the quarters were cramped for five people, and the absolute rule was that they had to stay in their seats with their safety belts fastened.
About halfway across Lake Michigan, I looked back to see how the kids were doing. There were the two girls, dutifully buckled in, reading their books and munching grapes out of a plastic bowl on the seat between them. It was a perfectly ordinary picture—except that they were upside down. Their hair was brushing the floor and their gangly tanned legs and bare feet were propped against the backs of their seats.
Their younger brother in the tiny seat behind them may not have appreciated the feet waving in his face, but for the girls it was a perfect solution to the boredom and discomfort of sitting in one place for so long. They were following the rules to the letter: they were in their seats with their seat belts on. Nobody had said they had to be right side up.
The buzzword for being creative, a cliché by now, is to think outside the box. Sometimes maybe it works better just to turn the box upside down.