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We should have known early on that our son was destined to be a police officer.

He loved being the teacher’s helper in the preschool room. He’d point out the other students when they didn’t follow the rules to a T.

We flew to Portland, Oregon, recently to celebrate my sister’s marriage. On the airplane, he very seriously turned his Kindle to airplane mode and quizzed his dad and me if we had turned our phones off. He reminded us of this step for each leg of our journey, mind you, and there were multiple takeoffs and landings.

It was cute the first time. The second and third time, we just raised an eyebrow and he stopped.

Each time we boarded a different aircraft, he’d pull out the safety card to see where the inflatable life vest was kept. He paid scrupulous attention to the flight attendant’s safety lecture and watched to see where the emergency exits were. I half expected him to pat the TSA officer on the back for a job well done.

I found out about a summer teen camp put on by the highway patrol, a kind of junior version of the real thing. It only lasts for a week, but it would be right up his alley.  The campers wake at dawn, eat meals in formation, and memorize boatloads of rules.

Come to think of it, he’s probably already gotten a copy of the rulebook and is memorizing it.

He tucks in his shirt — he looks like that TV character Urkel sometimes — and prefers his hair on the short side. My military father would adore this kid if he were still alive.

All of this makes him sound like a real pill. He isn’t, really, in spite of what his sister will tell you. He has a great sense of humor — if you like jokes about tooting and smells — and knows bunches of history and science.

Contrast this to my friend Elizabeth’s son. When he was 4, his parents found him at the bottom of the cul-de-sac selling fortunes. Elizabeth asked him, “What on earth are you doing? You know you can’t do this!”

His answer was right to the point.

“You never said I couldn’t sell fortunes, Mom!” He was correct; they never had forbidden it explicitly. Bless his little entrepreneurial heart. He’ll be a rich lawyer someday.

Hewing to the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law is a sore point in our society. Having the freedom to do something doesn’t mean we should do it. I can yodel at midnight in my kitchen, but should I do it?

I imagine my family would object rather strenuously. On the other hand, you can easily argue that if it’s not hurting anyone, there shouldn’t be a rule to prohibit it.

The rebel in me — yes, there is a rebel, buried deep within — wants to run down the street naked, painted blue. I haven’t done it yet, but give me time.

Please don’t tell my son. I’m sure he’ll try to stop me.

Talk to Karen

Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenLeeGamble.

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