Saturday, January 03, 2015

Resolute Shun

A solution is homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. That's chemistry. Or it's an action or process of solving a problem. Put a prefix in front of it and you get "resolution." Since "re" means "again and again," it would be hard to imagine that working with a noun, so we'll focus instead on that action or process. Something we could do again and again. 
I wish I could have had this flurry of logic available to me on New Year's Eve as my son and I were discussing resolutions. I was sticking my big parental nose into his business, asking him if there were any goals or expectations he wanted to set for himself in the coming year. In my mind, I had a number of different ways he could have gone: scholarship, employment, time management, exercise. I didn't suggest any of these, I waited for him to give me his answer.
"Why do we bother making resolutions at the beginning of the year just so we can look back a few months later and feel bad about ourselves?" His answer was a question. I shouldn't have been surprised, since it was a tack I have used since I was his age. Teenagers delight in their ability to focus attention on the question itself rather than the answer. Adults too. I played along.
"Why do you think we promise ourselves we'll do better after each report card? Does the end of a grading period seem any different than January first?" Spin, parry, thrust
I waited for his considered reply. Nothing.
"It's kind of like counting down three, two, one before we jump off into," I was going to say, "whatever" but was interrupted with his considered response.
"I could work harder on keeping my face clean." Well played, since that was definitely a parental gripe that would be assuaged by setting it as a goal for the coming year. It wasn't on the list I had in my mind, but I should have anticipated that none of those big ticket items would have shown up on their own. This was a negotiation that would take some time. This was a process that was going on and had been for a couple of years already. The idea that it might take another year to get him to internalize his own locus of control shouldn't have surprised me.
If he had told me, "Dad, I think this year I really want to focus on academics and make sure that I am prepared to go off fully prepared to take on the rigors of college. To do that, I will have to manage my time more carefully and make sure that I eat right and exercise to be sure that I am physically prepared to take on the challenges that I have set for myself," I would have laughed. Who does he think he's kidding? 
This year, I resolve to get off my son's back. 

No comments: