We were trying bikes out at Toys R US the other day.

We’d heard they had 14-inch bikes, which don’t exist at any of the other cheap stores where we’ve looked. Ella’s riding a 12-inch bike now (the size refers to the diameter of the wheels) and she’s almost too big for it. She’s tried a neighbor’s 16-inch bike and it’s a little on the big side. We sought the rare and glorious 14-inch bike, a symbol of peace and harmony and the answers to all our problems.

Right. So, there we were in the giant toy box, in the bike department, in a back corner of the store next to a large open floor space apparently intended as the tryout area. There they were, 14-inch bikes. I pulled down a variety of 14-inchers and 16-inchers and tried to get Ella to ride them systematically, so we could rule them out one by one.

Then I heard a voice from above say: “Attention parents, if you are shopping for a bicycle today, remember that North Carolina law requires children to wear a helmet.”

Hmmm. OK. They’re making a pitch for helmets. Ella already has one. No big deal.

We rode a couple more, decided that we couldn’t decide (does indecision create our lack of peace and harmony? I don’t know. Maybe.) and Trish and Ella moved on to shop for baby dolls while I checked out the dinosaurs.

Then, the Voice said, “Attention parents, if you are shopping for a bicycle today, please do not let your child ride the bike around the store.”

Was … was the Voice talking to me? He was, wasn’t he! My first thought was, how in the world do we choose a bike if our kid can’t ride it? Secondly, if the store doesn’t want people riding the bikes they shouldn’t provide a large open floor space, which practically screams “ride here!” Besides, the bikes had training wheels, for crying out loud.

My third thought was satisfyingly devious. I had enabled, encouraged, even, my daughter to break a rule. Was I making her a … a rule breaker? I was! Sure, I didn’t know we weren’t supposed to ride the bike. I guess I could have paid more attention to the “please ask for assistance” sign. So I’m not a detail person.

There was something appealing about being a non-conformist. I mean, the rules, which weren’t obvious, seemed, after I heard them, unrealistic, irrational … stupid. I never broke a lot of rules as a kid, because I was usually too naive to know how, and there were those big long switches my grandmother wielded. But in high school I learned as much about life from the guys who regularly skirted the rules as I did from any adults. These guys could spot a stupid rule from a mile away. They had more fun. I’ve applied their techniques countless times when confronted with illogical situations, most of them involving my employer or supervisor.

What’s next? Maybe we’ll go down the list of dumb laws. I can’t wait to do this:

“It is illegal to drive more than two thousand sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at one time.”

Who hasn’t broken this one:

“No person may show his or her buttocks on a playground.”

I don’t see us breaking this law, specific to our state, but it’s good to know:

“Bingo games may not last over 5 hours unless it is held at a fair.”

I realize, of course, we’d never break a law that could endanger ourselves or others. Like this one:

“It’s against the law to sing off key.”

Still, there’s a line between the logical and the ridiculous, and the girl’s got to learn to think for herself. Excuse me while plow my cotton fields with an elephant.

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