A few days ago, I had one of those conversations with my daughter’s teacher that parents either dread or love.
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New Year’s retributions
From small, I’ve been making New Year’s resolutions on Old Year’s Night and breaking them before lunch on January 1; sometimes before breakfast; and, in at least one case, even before going to bed on Old Year’s Night: for the 15 years I smoked cigarettes, I resolved to stop for the new year and then ring it in with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
This happens all our lives to all but the most boring of us. Resolutions to do my homework at CIC, eg, had the same chance of being held—ie, none whatsoever—as my later ones at university to keep up with assignments. (At Cave Hill, while my pardner Doggie was actually reminding us at Freshman’s Ball in September that we couldn’t forget we had exams in June, I hit upon the only academic principle I needed: the sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.)
Everyone’s the same (apart from accountants, tax collectors and insurance salesmen, who generally lead lives of such unrelenting boredom that keeping New Year resolutions actually adds excitement to them). We all make resolutions with great enthusiasm, and we all break them without much fanfare, sooner or later, and most of us far sooner than we admit to our friends.
And, apart from particular resolutions that we do not so much break as never start, such as my 15-year-long one to stop smoking or most married men’s resolution not to look at other women (because they spend Old Year’s Night itself gaping), we all also follow the same process in breaking our resolutions: we start off keen; falter early; persuade ourselves we’re not really-really breaking the resolution if we do it in a particular way; then cheat in secret; then flat out break the resolution and lie to our friends until February 1, when we all feel we can stop pretending we were ever going to keep the resolutions we’ve been breaking for the whole year.
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