"Go to bed." I say to my oldest.
"But I'm not tired," he replies.
"The rules are stay in bed and be quiet. Being tired is not a concern" I counter.
"Can that rule not apply to me?"
This is the conversation I had with my 16-year-old. It is almost the conversation I've had with all my children only the younger ones haven't verbalized it in quite that way (or at all). Usually they just get up a bazillion times. Stay in bed and be quiet. That's all we need to know. Short, simple and sweet. You don't have to sleep. You can keep a light on unless it disturbs someone else in the room. You can read a book or play quietly, just stay in your bed.
Actually what struck me this time was not yet another attempt to stay up past bedtime. It was that last comment. "Can that rule not apply to me?"
I've thought about that. We (people) do that. We understand the rules be they are physical, social or spiritual in nature. We accept the rules. We even accept that some rules are good. When you have to live with other human beings certain rules make that easier. But we often want the rule to not apply to us. Or more accurately we don't want the consequences to apply to us. I want to eat that bucket of chicken, that entire chocolate cake or whatever is the preferred food indulgence without the extra weight gain or heart attack. We want the police to ignore us as we drive 10, 15, 20 miles over the speed limit. We expect blessings but we don't want to keep the Sabbath or pay a full tithing or whatever.
My middle son is often telling me that he can do whatever he wants. It's a free country. He can make his own choices. I tell him that he is right. He can choose his own direction. He can make his own choices. However, he does not get to pick the consequences. The consequences good, bad or indifferent come despite what we think or feel about them. I can choose to eat a plate of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies. They will taste divine and I will love them and afterwards I will feel like warmed over blah. That is the rule. Eat LOTS of cookies and feel like poo.
So. The answer to my 16-yr-old is the rule applies to you. Someday you will get to make your own bedtime rule. But that day is not today, my son.