We all have flaws in our character and if you say you don't, there it is. There's your flaw. You lack self-awareness.
I have many, many, MANY flaws, of course. I'd put "lets words fall out of mouth before thinking" at the top of that list.
For Alexis, that list would start with "can't see the grey area." What I mean by that is that her world is very black and white. There is no grey. For example, if her cheer coach says the girls need to stand with their hands on their hips between cheers, by god, the child is going to stand with her hands on her hips. A swarm of bees could land on her forehead and shout "slap us and we'll give you $1 million!" and she would not move her hands because RULES, PEOPLE. She can't figure out why other people don't see everything as black and white right along with her.
I've sort of tried to help her understand that sometimes a little grey is OK, but then I realized something really important. It's EXHAUSTING constantly worrying about what other people are doing wrong. If she continues the behavior, eventually she's going to wear herself out. She might sleep for more than a few minutes when that happens!
In the meantime, sometimes I sort of bend the black and white for her. For example, when she asked why the other girls on her cheer squad didn't have their hands on their hips the whole time, I answered, "because their feet were itchy." It was an answer that made absolutely no sense and it confused the poor kid so much she forgot what rules she wanted enforced. I have also proven to her that I can walk around with my flip-flops on the wrong feet, that nothing bad will happen if you color outside of the lines, and that sometimes you can talk loudly in the library.
More notably, I try to challenge her to break away from the black and white once in a while.
A very interesting place to challenge the kid was at the Great Lakes Science Center. The entire upper floor is filled with hands-on activities that allow you to see the laws of science in action. You can create a bubble wall, but only if you pull on the lever slowly and evenly.
You can watch smoke turn into a tornado if conditions are right.
You can balance a beach ball on a gust of wind if you follow the instructions.
Law after law is described in a poster and then proven with a hands-on display. In challenging Alexis to see the grey, I suggested that she see if there were any displays that worked even if you didn't follow the directions. The idea was for her to see that you absolutely can put together that bookcase from IKEA without looking at the little pictures and trying to figure out what they mean, you just have to apply yourself. And drink a lot, probably.
The rule she was quickest to bend was the one that said not to touch any people while touching this thing.
So that "bend a rule" thing backfired. I ended up getting shocked by a super giggly rule bender.
It wasn't until we moved to another floor that Alexis truly embraced the rule bending mentatlity. There is currently a LEGO display at the Great Lakes Science Center that features lots of awesome like this.
Alexis, as a human being under 200 years of age, did what anyone would do in her position -- she ran in and started to build at the designated workstations. She grabbed big blocks, little blocks, all of the blocks, but then she noticed that she needed some yellow blocks in order to finish the pattern she had started.
It was no big deal. All Alexis had to do was walk around the corner to another bin filled with LEGOs.
She was out of sight for all of about two seconds before she came running back and asked to show Mila something. I obliged and then followed them.
Alexis found a rule to bend.
"Mom, look!" she said. "Mila is driving! She's not old enough to drive!"