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A Clean Slate

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January 2005
A Clean Slate

By Suburban Memsahib

If there is one thing more annoying than having your New Year's resolutions fly out of the window by the end of January, it could be your precocious child who has made two copies of her last year's resolutions, who casually tosses them across to you as you snuggle in the couch in late December, and lets you know that she has actually managed to stick with hers all year long.

When I was a college going girl in Mumbai, New Year's resolutions were semi-hip and things listed were realistic goals such as: remember to bring Trig homework in for the next two days. The laundry list of resolutions never needed to be followed all year long even if the term "New Year's" sounded grandiose enough for long-term visions such as: make eye contact with cute boy in Row 2?my best friend's version of a New Year's resolution.

Now that I am a harried mom, a list of New Year's resolutions offers a vague hope that things might just finally start getting on the right track again. My problem, my daughter tells me, is that my goals are ill-defined. She has been learning time management and organizational skills at school and a goal such as "Be more organized" is too vague. I agree but it is a start to put down a goal on paper I assume.

Here was my list for last year: Be more organized, No yelling at kids. Here is my list of specific New Year's resolutions?maybe they will motivate me to stick to them at least until March.

1. Be organized?throw out old school projects and old school lunches, make lists, lists, lists?at least they make you feel more organized, return phone calls promptly, do not write messages on pieces of Kleenex, keep kitchen counter clutter free for 2 hours at a time, do not hang on to unwanted coupons so one day you'll remember to mail them to service men and women in Iraq, remember to transfer washed clothes to dryer earlier than 3 days after wash, remember to pick up dry cleaning before it goes to storage, return library books on time so you don't have to pay to replace a third of the children's book section, save old magazines for school diorama projects, throw out old magazines if they clutter kitchen counter for more than two hours, remember that pasta 3 days in a row is unhealthy, remember teacher's holiday gifts, remember to check all pockets for crayons before they go into dryer, remember all after-school activities.

2. No yelling at kids?if they don't throw out old school projects and old school lunches, if they write phone messages down on pieces of Kleenex, if they feel an obsessive need to save all magazines just in case teacher asks them to create a mauve-colored theme park tomorrow, if they clutter the kitchen counter with afore-mentioned magazines and other miscellaneous junk, if they ask for pasta 3 days in a row, if they don't remember any more what their teachers want for the holidays, if they don't remember to bathe for two days in a row (you should have been more organized and remembered), if Varsha does not transfer her laundry to the dryer when reminded (she is only following your example), if the kids accumulate $26.35 in fines on individual library cards (they will work to pay it off), if they neglect to remove crayons from pockets and fuse new chinos together with new sweater, if they complain that Wednesdays are not karate days.

That should be a good specific start for now. I get the feeling it was a lot easier just to remember my Trig homework way back in college. My friend tells me even the seemingly impossible task "make eye contact with cute boy in Row 2" was easier than my forbidding list. At least if it doesn't work I will feel better knowing that I tried.


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