You realize that rules like i before e except after c aren't as thoroughly useful as they sound, right? Even if you try to patch the gaps with a disclaimer–or when it sounds like "ay" as in neighbor or weigh–there remain a bewildering number of exceptions.
And at the risk of promoting moral relativism, I find myself considering a lot of non-grammatical rules that are similarly dysfunctional–they work . . . most of the time.
I'm not saying we need to get rid of the rules–at my house, believe me, we live by a lot of rules—but are there rules we cling to primarily out of ignorance or fear?
We all know children–and adults–who have no fear and no expectation of consequence. They have been enabled to cross so many lines and trample so many boundaries without repercussion that thinking individuals see them coming and promptly bar the door.
But we also know children and adults who are paralyzed by fear. Paralyzed from taking a chance or speaking their mind because they fear to cross some line they've drawn for themselves. Or maybe you've drawn for them and they love you and want to please you and so they toe that line for your benefit.
Where was I headed?
I'm not sure. Maybe just acknowledging how ill-suited I am at drawing lines for anyone else. Within my own life, in my stewardship as mother or caregiver or citizen, I believe I am entitled to inspiration regarding where those lines lie. But I don't believe, no matter how far up I situate myself in order to survey my neighbor's little plot of soil next door, that I possess sufficient understanding to plot out where theirs should be.
Or you, mine.