New Year Resolutions

First, Christmas, then New Year, and Epiphany yesterday completed the holiday season, or as a former colleague put it, a crazy fortnight during which one could not get anyone to make any decisions of significance and even after decisions were made, they could not be kept for long. At first, I thought my colleague was talking about people in senior positions taking long holidays and the reluctance of their deputies to take difficult decisions in their absence. Later, I realized that he was talking about the New Year resolutions which everybody made and broke at this time of the year, often without batting an eyelid.

Some resolutions are non-starters, such as reading all weeklies, cleaning one’s room and desk, losing ten to twenty pounds, getting regular exercises or more, eating and drinking rationally, whining less about others or life, trying to see things other people’s way and so on. In UK, the national urge to make New Year resolutions was so strong that the health authorities are using the New Year to launch a new advertising campaign to help smokers give up. I bet there are countless websites and chat rooms on the Internet dealing with New Year resolutions and God knows how many of the 118 million ICQ users have been exchanging views over this annual routine.

For this year, I had secretly resolved to spend less time before the computer, particularly on computer games which seemed to go on forever, to refrain from making speeches at my own Rotary club and to have dinners at home at least thrice a week. The trouble with the first was that I could be going against a trend and besides I needed the game to unwind; the trouble with the second was that my members seemed to like my Rotary Information sessions; at least that was what the other past presidents said; and the trouble with the third was that the domestic helper was on holiday.

In fact the domestic helper was away all three weeks Lawrence was back. We tried to have as many meals together as possible, but we all operated busy schedules and different lives. We concluded that our son was gregarious, lovable, friendly, accommodating, held in high estimation amongst his friends and trusty and trusting. In addition, he and his friends had to be rather healthy and strong to endure those sleepless nights. I hasten to add that neither Rosita nor I had qualms about Lawrence not returning home those nights. On a typical night, we would wake up at two for example to find that he was not back and would call to find out where he was and ask when he would be back. “Soon” was the normal reply, which we took it to imply anytime up to the next morning.

Well, Lawrence left Saturday night and we would not know when he returned home each night, whether he had sufficient to eat or wear, or whom he went out with every evening.

The process of bringing up children has no beginning and no end. For that matter, there can be no fixed agenda as well. When they were small, we tried to do everything for them; made decisions for them and believing them to be the best for them, and generally shielded them from evil and danger. The agenda then was to leave them as many options as we possibly could afford. Before we knew or noticed, they grew up even as we watched as closely as we could. They cried out to be heard and noticed, as if they never were. They were building up their own lives and were learning to make decisions for themselves. As parents, we learnt to let go, but could never so do entirely and never would. Nor would the children expect so, regardless of what they would tell others, themselves or us.

Parents and children are not brought together by choice in the sense that parents would not know who their offspring are before they are born and children could not choose their biological parents. In this sense, they are ascribed to each other through fate, unlike man and wife, and unlike friends. The relationships between parents and children however are the basic fabric of society which we call family, a collection of which, a community and so on. Hence, the relationship between family members can be a reflection of a community.

It is therefore sad to see discords between parents and children, but one could say the same of a breakdown in any relationship. Now, no two relationships are alike; and all players in a relationship must play their part to make it work. This is fundamental. The present-day morality seems to have accepted divorces as commonplace and sociologists and social workers appear to be more forthcoming with explanations to the phenomenon than prescriptions. Perhaps, if individuals learn to respect each other for what they are and as they are, they can learn to become friends; and if married couples become friends and parents and children become friends, everyone would live happier lives. Maybe we can all resolve to be a friend with our spouse and children, beginning today.

Talk to you again soon.

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