Resolutions? Bah! Humbug! My New Year’s resolution is one that I cannot fail to keep, because my only resolution this year is not to make any more resolutions. This decision is based on my acceptance of the reality that resolutions, while well-intentioned, are designed to be broken. A broken resolution constitutes failure, and come on, who needs to live with that burden for the rest of the year?
I feel the lifting of a load from my shoulders, similar to the feeling I had when I gave up on sending out Christmas cards at Christmas. They were always late, so I decided to go with the flow and send out New Year’s cards instead. This means I have January and most of February until the next big holiday, Valentine’s Day, before I’m late. Clever, yes? A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. Happy New Year!
He “Made-Off” with the People’s Trust. A corollary to the rule that you have to have money to make money is that you have to have money to lose money. So we didn’t lose any money in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme that hit the headlines right before the holidays, but it’s hard not to feel for the many innocent investors who did, especially charitable organizations and schools that are still reeling from the impact.
This story has all the elements of Shakespearean tragedy — the grandiose scope, the hubris, the nerve, the betrayal of friendship, and the destruction of family, particularly the relationship between Madoff the father and Madoff the sons who turned him in.
Confession time: When I was seven years old, I swiped 10 pennies from my friend’s piggybank (I didn’t have any money to buy licorice at the 5 and 10 and I wanted it so much — Erin, please forgive me). To this day, my crime still weighs heavily on my soul. This is why I cannot comprehend how Madoff can live with his conscience. And where were all the regulators while he swindled his way through three decades? Collecting their paychecks and not doing their jobs! This is a tale of greed and ineptitude that boggles the mind. It’s like watching a bizarre soap opera or a car crash — I can’t resist checking in for the latest update.
You Can Come Home Again — But Take Your Shoes Off at the Door. While I enjoyed two lovely weeks as a reunited family with both girls home from school, less than a couple of days into the holiday, I found myself gritting my teeth and hearing myself repeat basic house rules like a tape recorder. The kids may grow older and spend less time at home, but some things never change. We tell our kids that since we don’t have too many rules, the few we do have should be really easy to follow.
I wrote down our house rules and posted them on the bathroom mirror so I would not lose my voice or my sanity. Here they are in case you want to cut and paste and create your very own poster.
1.) No Shoes Upstairs (especially if they are wet and muddy!). Note to my children: I grew up in a Korean house where we followed custom and didn’t allow footwear inside the house at all, so this watered-down rule should be a piece of cake!
2.) No Drinks in the Family Room (any more). Note to my children: Libations in the family room have been allowed to this point. However, this privilege has been revoked due to indiscriminate spillage and a perpetual distaste for ‘fessing up and wiping up.
3.) If You Spill it, Wipe it Up (Corollary to Rule 2). Note to my children: You are bright, so do not make this any more complicated than it is. You know that abundant supply of paper towels in the kitchen? They don’t require a visa to cross the border into other rooms that incur accidental spillage.
4.) Sign KP Chart to Walk the Dogs. Note to my children: Since I am not one of the three children who begged for the two dogs, I consider it completely inappropriate that I am their primary walker. Your legs are young and sturdy. So do the right thing and take your turn. And to make sure you receive proper credit, sign your name on the chart I’ve posted to ensure your participation. I’ll be checking.
5.) If You Take it Out, Put it Back. Note to my children: I know it’s fun to relive the glory of your middle school years. However, if you pull out your photo albums from the cabinet, please put them back where you found them at the risk of finding your really bad haircut posted for all to see somewhere, preferably on your Facebook site if I can figure out how to get onto it.
6.) Lights Off When You Leave. Note to my children: This is one small thing we can do to save energy, and if it cuts down on the electric bill in the process, even better. I know it’s scary to come home to the dark, but please do your best to refrain from lighting up the whole house like a Christmas tree.
7.) When Asked to Do Something, Do It With a Smile. Note to my children: I am your parent and as such, do not deserve the evil eye when I ask you to do something you regard as a chore. Just do it. With a smile, and maybe even a perky, “and what else can I do?” You may be surprised at the goodwill you generate in return.
8.) Offer to Help. Note to my children: I have observed you in the context of the greater world jumping up and offering to help and I have been proud of your grace and kindness. Is it too much to ask that you use that same generosity of spirit in your own home, or are you saving your best behavior for others?
Kindly remember that your father and I are growing older and creakier every day. It is your filial duty to help us out without our having to ask. Why on earth do you think we had you in the first place?