G-Man: "Mom? Can I have the iPod?"
Me: "Not right now. Sorry, buddy."
G-Man: "Why? I really want the iPod!"
Me: "I know you do. I'm sorry. But you are on your way to school, and we don't have a long way to drive, and it's not a good time for the iPod."
Silence from the backseat.
G-Man: "Mom - I'm mad at you."
Me: "Sorry to hear that."
G-Man: "I'm mad at you because you should give me what I want when I want it. It's not nice. I should get to do what I want."
Now, at this point in the conversation, I usually change the subject, but for some reason, I started down a different conversational path...
Me: "Really? You think you should always get to do what you want?"
Me: "Okay. So, if you wanted to eat candy all day long, I should let you do that? Even though it makes your tummy hurt? Or, last year when we were working on going potty in the toilet - you really wanted to keep wearing diapers and didn't want to learn to go to the bathroom and wear big boy underwear. Should I have let you keep going potty in your diapers? Just because that's what you wanted to do?"
G-Man: "No, mom! That's silly!"
Me: "That's right. And it's my job as your mommy to help you learn that there things that you may not want to do at first, but that are better for you when you do them. Just because we always want to do something, doesn't mean it's good for us."
And as I kept talking and giving him examples, it was like I was talking to myself. Just because I want to do something, doesn't mean I should just be able to do it. As I've lamented my spotty self-discipline in certain areas, I don't think I've ever thought about this as an analogy before.
Just because I want to sleep late every morning, is that a good choice for me?
Just because I really like donuts and I want to eat them every single day, should I?
Nope, and nope.
As I said to G-Man, a parent is someone who helps you learn things that help you become a better person. Things that may not be fun or that take time to learn or that you don't want to do at first. That's what the commandments are for. That's why we have these bodies to take care of and to train - to teach us how to discipline ourselves and overcome our natural tendencies. So many examples from my own life of things I need to do to improve kept flashing through my brain as I was talking to my four year old.
And as I finished up after talking through all these realizations, I looked in the rear view mirror and said, "Does that makes sense, buddy?"
"Mom, I stopped listening."
That's okay, buddy. I think I was having the conversation for my own benefit anyway.