Happy new year! Yay! Woohoo! Another chance to try and improve ourselves, or do more of what we did for the last 12 months and pretend like we’re trying to improve ourselves.
This year I sent out and replied to very few wishes, resisted the urge to share a photograph of the flowering gourd vine on my balcony with a caption of new beginnings and went about the day like it was any other Sunday. Then the children ruined it by insisting we make new year resolutions.
The five-year-old decided that in 2017 he would make an entire lego set himself, instead of imperiously tossing the instruction manual to his underlings (his brother and myself), yell at us to work faster and then snatch the final creation from our hands and crow “Look what I made!” The eight-year-old solemnly stated that he would like to read more books, read one book and then claimed “I’m done!”
I decided to “be myself more and be in the moment more”. Now, the reason I chose this was because a) I’m perfect b) it’s hard to quantify being in the moment: no kilograms lost, minutes exercised, pages read, steps walked to track c) No one can really tell if I’m ‘in the moment’ or not.
Also, with this resolution I basically have to do nothing. I find this gentler than some of the resolutions my fellow parents make. ‘I’ll be nicer to my kids’, ‘I won’t shout at them’, ‘I’ll be more understanding’, ‘I’ll be patient’. Yeah. Sure you will (written with a massive teenage eye roll). Forget about the standard 15 days our best intentions are predicted to last in the new year… these resolutions don’t even last 15 minutes.
Hypothetically, all it would take is someone (say age five) to open a dabba of gulab jamuns, proceed to spill sugar syrup all over the kitchen floor, panic, run through it, and then through the entire house looking for a place to hide.
I mean, one could look at the sticky, sweet mess, smile and say “Aww that’s alright. We all make mistakes sweetheart” or one could scream “Get your skinny butt back hear right now and clean this before I make you lick it off the floor.”
In such a hypothetical situation, my new year resolution insists that I chose option 2. Because a)I’m being myself and b) I’m truly being in the moment. (How can one tell? One cannot! That is the beauty of it.) c) It feels so good.
Parents, we’re getting the blame whatever we do. ‘Failed parenting techniques’ is one of the reasons Simon Sinek says millennials are so hard to work with. Some people are calling Aamir Khan’s portrayal of Mahavir Singh Phogat in Dangal abusive parenting masquerading as nationalism. If you tell your kids how amazing they are and tell them they can have anything they want you’re crippling them.
If you’re tough, wake them up at 5am and cut their hair off, people will write shit about you. Sure, sure there’s a middle path we’re meant to find and tread. But till you find it (or someone else finds it for you), follow my lead and be yourselves! And help yourself to a gulab jamun. Or three.