Saturday, October 9, 2010

Changing the Rules

My granddaughter’s last home volleyball game was Thursday night. Somehow I had never seen the volleyball schedule and had missed every game so far. I looked at my calendar and sighed.

“I have an SBW meeting Thursday,” I told my son, Eric, when he called to tell me about the game. The games started at 5:30 in a nearby town, but I don’t get off work until 6:00. Still, I had intended to take some vacation to go to some of the home games.

“Well, maybe you can go to her tournament. That will be either next Saturday or the next one, I’m not sure which,” Eric said.

I didn’t have to look at my calendar to know that it didn’t matter which Saturday—both were booked solid. “I’ll just take off work early and be a little late to my meeting,” I said.

Before I left work, I gave Brenda (co-worker and SBW member) the money to pay for my dinner. She said she would save me a place. “Ask them to serve my meal and if I’m late, I’ll just eat it cold.” I figured that if necessary I could leave before the game ended and be only fifteen minutes late.

I arrived at the gymnasium just as the “B” Team was finishing up their game. I found Eric, Shawna, and Shawna’s mom and dad sitting on the bleachers. Soon the “A” Team finished their warm up and the game was on.

I played on the volleyball team when I was in school and on both a women’s recreational team and a co-ed team with Jim when I was younger. I settled in to watch the game confident that at least this was a game I understood.

A girl served the ball and it went out of bounds. The scoreboard chalked up a point for the other team. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Then, a girl on our team served the ball and the other team returned it, our girls dropped it, so score another point for the visiting team.

“I don’t understand why they are getting points,” I said to Shawna. “Only the team serving can make points.”

“Either team can score regardless of who serves,” she said.

“Yeah, they’ve changed the rules since we were in school,” said Shawna’s mom, Wanda. “At first I was really confused.”

My granddaughter was her team’s best server. She scored five quick points just by tossing the ball in the air and slamming it over. “We couldn’t serve overhand in school,” I said.

As I watched the game, I realized the changes made it a much faster paced game. I suppose that’s much more suited to today’s faster paced world.

On my way to my meeting, I pondered on how many rules have changed over the years. When I was young and dressed up, the only question was whether to wear short or long white gloves. Shoes were generally black or white and you didn’t wear the white ones after Labor Day or before Easter. Everyone dressed up for church, and you wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing your blue jeans or shorts and sneakers. Girls wore dresses to school—it was in the rules.

Some of the rules of life have changed. I heard on the news that for the first time in America, more couples live together without tying the knot than couples who are married. How could such a thing happen? Just to mention a few reasons: people marry later in life, divorce can be financially devastating, there is little to no stigma attached to having children when the parents aren’t married. Sometimes when a loved one has a serious illness, like Alzheimer’s, couples divorce to be able to afford nursing home care.

Rule changes affect everything and everyone around us and can be either good or bad. Changes are bad when it makes things easier, but not better. Rule changes are good if they make the mundane or outdated fresh and new. They may be good if the only good reason for keeping a rule is “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

When I walked into my meeting every woman in the room faced the flag with her hand over her heart. I stopped inside the doorway and joined them to recite the same Pledge of Allegiance I had learned in elementary school. There is no doubt that some rules are better left alone.

Copyright © 2010 L. S. Fisher


Carol Noren Johnson said...

So tonight my husband with ALZ didn't remember that I called to tell him why I would be late. He was livid with me when I came home, but decided to forget it, saying that if I ever did this again he would divorce me. I asked him how he would get along without me. He didn't have an answer. Maybe it's sundowners.

We had such a nice date last night but the rules and the disease are indeed changing. I am not liking how ALZ is proceeding.

Cindy said...

eWell you don't need to tell me about changing rules. Strangly enough I like one of the new young singers Kate Perry. Some of the words to her song are a little over the top but a couple of her songs I just love the tempo of the music. She did an interview recently and we have two things in common: She said I'm from California and I like to make waves. Maybe little tiny waves but no matter I am a rule changer or breaker..

Carol Noren Johnson said...

Linda, not sure if I have taken this post in another direction, but I need your input on Sundowners. Have you written about it? Things change at sundown.

Today, one day later, my husband has forgotten about his threat to divorce me, and is appreciative. He was angry about something else about sundown time, however.

I guess the rules of normal discourse just change with Alzheimer's and you have to expect it.

L S Fisher said...


Sundowning is real and can certainly be a problem. The only good thing is your husband is not going to remember what he is angry about for long.

Talk to your physician about how to calm him. It may take medication, but you might find other things to soothe him like music, milk and cookies, or taking a walk in the evening to help him burn off some of the excess energy.

I think the key is to make him feel like you look forward to spending some time with him. Don't let him pull you into any argument.

I hope you find the following information helpful. It is "how to respond to behavior" from my Alzheimer's In Service program for health care workers:

Response to Behavior
• Remain flexible, patient, and calm.
• Respond to the emotion, not the behavior.
• Don’t argue or try to convince.
• Don’t take the behavior personally.
• Consult a physician to identify illness or medications.

Carol, I know it's hard and there are no easy solutions. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Hugs!! Linda

Carol Noren Johnson said...

Thanks for the suggestions from an expert, Linda! I am also working on more light in the room where he watches TV.