For years my family’s motto has been “I do what I want.” It’s not carved into a stone by the front gate. It’s not hanging on the wall as a needle point sampler. None of us could recognize it written in fancy script in Latin. (Well, maybe my daughter could. She took Latin in high school.) “I do what I want” is simply our response to being told what to do.
This motto sprung into being at some point when my kids were young. My husband or I would give a child a simple instruction, “Pick up your toys,” or “take that plate to the kitchen,” and the child would respond with “I do what I want,” and then carry out the task. Sometimes, if they were reading, or watching television there would be a short delay, but the task would be done. “I do what I want” wasn’t sass, it was a statement of independence. Coupled with the action, it became a way of saying “I am a person, and I do the things I do because I choose to, not because I am forced to.”
As family dialects do, it evolved with time. When the boys starting driving, I would always tell them as they left the house, to be careful. With a smile, they would reply “I do what I want.” When my younger son left for the Navy, he hugged me and told me not to worry. I replied “I do what I want.”

That’s the way it’s supposed be, folks. We are supposed to be reasonable, intelligent people, doing the things we do because we want to, not because we have to. We are supposed to be mindful of the people around us, and our responsibilities to them, while remaining true to who we are. We aren’t herd animals, we’re people.

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