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A Mission, Boundaries, and Knowledge

During our vacation to Amelia Island, a few situations came up that provoked my thoughts about the association between a mission, boundaries, and knowledge.
The first situation occurred one afternoon when we went to get ice cream. We walked into the Marshe to get some ice cream. When I opened the door and noticed the crowd, I thought it would be a long wait. I held the door for everyone to enter (and the boys to run in, of course). As I entered and approached the ice cream line, I discovered that Madden, Miles, and Max were next in line. I was somewhat perplexed since I thought there was a long line for ice cream. 
I asked the gentleman behind them if they skipped line and he responded “No, not at all. They were the only decisive ones in line.” I really didn’t believe him and mentioned that they don’t always have boundaries. The gentleman replied: “That is a good thing. Not having boundaries is the first step to knowledge.”

For the next 24 hours, I thought about that gentlman’s kindness. I also thought about the impact boundaries have on knowledge. 

The second situation occurred the next day at the activity center. We went to play a game of putt-putt. We ran into another family I met earlier on the beach while walking Maggie. As I talked with the family, I noticed Madden, Miles, and Max playing putt-putt. They had spread out all over the course. They weren’t playing together. They didn’t even follow the course. They didn’t play the holes in order. The good thing is that no one else was playing so they weren’t disturbing anyone. They weren’t being destructive. They certainly didn’t feel any boundaries. They were just creating their own game.

I was still talking to the family I met the day before when they came sprinting off the course. There was a human size chess set next to where we were talking. The boys began playing chess. Well, they really weren’t playing chess, but they were playing with the chess pieces. Madden knocked one over, Miles knocked one over, and then Max knocked one over. I asked Madden what he was doing and he said “you are suppose to knock over the piece, that is how you play chess.” A few thoughts went through my mind as I reflected on his statement. Is that really how you play chess? Is it reslly a war? I think that is sort of how you play.

As I continued to watch them, I began to think about drawing boundaries or being grateful they:

  • were bonding,
  • weren’t fighting,
  • weren’t hurting anyone,
  • didn’t seem to be hurting the chess pieces, and
  • were all focused on the same mission (seek and destroy).

I finally decided they were getting too rowdy and asked them to stop. However, they didn’t listen and I repeated myself. At this point, they were on a mission.

As the mission continued, they began tackling the chess pieces. I asked Madden what they were doing again and he said: “playing dominoes.” At this point, a lady (I have no idea who she was) walked up behind me and yelled at the boys: “YOU BOYS NEED TO STOP. YOUR BEHAVIOR IS UNNACCEPTABLE.” Everyone around froze.  The playing came to a screeching halt. The boundaries just got set. Game over. The mission was over and they felt defeated.

    On one hand, I felt bad for them. On the other hand, I wanted to join their mission. I decided not to join their mission (at this point they had already taken out every chess piece and I believe they accomplished their mission). They figured out it was time to stop. I believe the boys were embarrassed. Whatever it was they were doing, whatever creativity they had, they knew it had to come to an end. They were no longer a team. They were no longer bonding. I knew it was only a matter of minutes before they would be fighting since the mission was over.

    For once, I am glad I wasn’t the one yelling at them. Believe me, I do my fair share of yelling. I felt bad for them in a way and was a little conflicted on setting a boundary or letting them complete their mission. Please don’t misunderstand, the boys do need boundaries, but the mission can be critical.

    The third situation took place at the swimming pool. Madden and I were throwing a tennis ball. At first, we threw the ball back and forth. After a few hours, Madden began making me dive for the ball. Then he began throwing it completely out of my reach. I became worried he was going to hit someone as we played this game. He was having fun, but I was becoming worried. I made a decision to set some boundaries – throw the ball to me so you don’t hit anyone. He threw the ball one or teo more times and then became bored. It was as if the boundaries caused him to shut down.

    From these three secanrios, I realize there is some type of relationship between a mission, boundaries, and knowledge:

    1. A mission is important.
    2. Boundaries can keep us from starting a mission.
    3. Our minds can have boundaries that hold us back
    4. When our minds are bound, our creativity is stifled
    5. Boundaries can keep us from playing the game which means we miss out on an experience – an experience to learn or gain knowledge

    Were these scenarios related? Why did the gentleman in the ice cream line respond so politely and the lady at the chess pieces so abrubtly? Did the gentleman just understand boys and a mission? Was the lady just seeing that they crossed a boundary? Why did the boundaries I set cause Madden to stop throwing the ball? What was there to learn? Is setting boundaries more important than an opportunity to learn?

    I don’t want the boys to be heathans. I don’t want them to be disrespectful, mean, or inconsiderate. I want the boys to be good citizens. I want them to be respectful, kind, and courteous. I want them to have certain boundaries. However, I don’t want boundaries to keep them from going on a mission. I don’t want those boundaries, or how those boundaries are set, to stifle their creativity. I don’t want those boundaries to keep them from bonding. I don’t want those boundaries to keep them from developing close relationships. I believe there is a right way to set those boundaries. I believe the key is to set the right boundaries and set them the right way. I sure hope I can learn do that before it is too late.


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