New Year, New Leaf, New Way…

My 4 year old granddaughter to her Uncle Sam. 
“Know how we got to Mormor’s house so fast? We came yesterday!” 

Little children have a funny way of looking at things. They bring a fresh perspective to our old and wearied lives. Every New Years people the world over make resolutions. We all want to change something in our lives. Eat better. Exercise more. Generally get into better shape. Perhaps we need to break a bad habit like smoking or constant tardiness. The flip side is to develop new or better habits. Benjamin Franklin had a list of 13 virtues he lived by that not only suggested adding positive behaviours but also discarding poor behaviours. In the very least, we can modify some of our actions. There are a million things we can do to change it up and restart life. We are all aware of the good and bad habits we possess. Why is it then that we fail so often in our quest for new and improved. Perhaps the secret lies in the childlike thought process.

From the moment we are born we are constantly learning and evolving. Over time the new and exotic becomes boring and commonplace. Have you ever watched a small child and their first experience with snow? When was the last time you looked at snow that way. My youngest grandchildren are 10 month old twin boys. They are at the age of crawling and exploring, For me this is when children are the most fascinating to watch. We laugh at the things they do. They stop and pick up a piece of lint that we don’t even see. They sit back on their bums and examine it closely. They turn it this way and that. Eventually they pop it into their mouths and the ever vigilant Momma swoops in with her probing fingers to pull it back out again. I very seldom crawl around on the floor and when I do I am less thrilled with the things I find under the bed. For me it is a reminder that I need to vacuum. Dust bunnies have lost their fascination for this old lady. I think to myself, when did I turn on the dust bunnies? At what point in my life did they fade from the curious and become a nuisance?

Ultimately we become lazy I think. Comfortable with the known and a little more wary of the unknown. Somehow we fall into our lives. We think we make all of the choices however more often than not we seize the opportunities that come our way. Or not. I once read that there is no such thing as a missed opportunity. You let it go by and the next fellow in line grabs it. There is a generally accepted timeline laid out for us when we are born. Often dictated by where we are born and the family we are born into. We follow along what has been done before us. Although we often want more for our kids they will quite often follow what has been done before in their own family. In a professional or educated family there is the expectation that the children will achieve a post secondary education. A farmers son will often become a farmer. Most young people coming of age have no idea what they want to be when they grow up. As I approach my sixties, I realize I am still unsure of what I want to be when I grow up. Often time is a factor as well. Who doesn’t dream of becoming an Olympic athlete? The time and commitment just to get there is enormous. And then what? To become number one? What does that take? Sometimes it is easier to just watch the games on TV and marvel at the incredible talent. See. Lazy.

And what about expectations? What’s the correct way to raise a child? Do you push them to excel at all costs or do you let them make all of their own choices? Is there a happy medium? It all depends on the child I think. My son played hockey for many years with a lad who eventually became a number one draft pick in the NHL. That boy was very dedicated as was his father. In the younger years my son was in the same class as this boy. They were both very talented. The other boys father often chided my husband and myself for not pushing our son. Camps, hockey schools, etc. What he didn’t understand was that Sam never asked to do any of these things. In fact, by January he was tired of hockey and wanted to know when lacrosse was starting. He didn’t love the game the same as the other boy. He didn’t have the same drive. That’s something you can’t teach a child.

On the other hand Rene’ worked with a woman who was on the phone every day with her children when they came home from school. There were long discussions about what homework they had, any assignments or tests that were returned and what the marks were. After school was about homework and studying because anything less than an “A” just wasn’t tolerated. One day Rene’ aske his workmate what kind of a student she had been at that age? Turns out she was a “C” student and felt she hadn’t been pushed hard enough. As a result she was finishing her degree part time and she was in her mid fourties. She wanted more for her kids. Then Rene’ asked about her school years. Her eyes lit up with the memories. She had fun. She played sports and was quite popular. Parties and hanging out with friends after school. The arcade and Saturday night movies. Driving around in her Mom’s old car. Unfortunately she was letting her regrets dictate her child rearing. Letting her grown up brain decide made her forget the fun she was taking away from her kids. Unfortunately our children cant learn from our mistakes. They need to make their own.

At what point in life do we find we need to make resolutions? Well based on my own research with a sample field of one, me, it happens when we reach our teens. As a teen I decided to try and write in a diary every day for a year. That lasted three days. By skipping a few days I felt I failed and then gave up. Now I realize I can write or not write. About anything. I make the rules. My early twenties I always vowed to be more organized. Turns out I am organized. In some areas. My A.D.D. brain just makes me jump around a lot so it seems like I never finish anything. I finish lots. I just take on more than lots. Each decade had me re-evaluating my life. Honestly each decade was better than the one before. My resolutions became about doing things. Take a picture a day. Again the first day I didn’t have my camera with me. Oops. I don’t take a ton of pictures but I take enough to bring the memories back. It only takes one to remember. One year I did a new thing every month on the 15th. Super hard to come up with ideas and in the beginning it was fun. Eventually it became a chore. Kinda makes you wonder what the point was. My personal new year starts on my birthday. February 15th. That is the beginning of my year and the new leaf I want to turn over. Rene’ thought that was a little self centred. Certainly is although I can argue that I am the star in the movie of Me. So again, my rules. Who exactly does it hurt? I have come to realize that I am an ideas guy, as my hubby used to say. Long on ideas and short on action.

We have all heard the saying about a five year old running our lives. Most of the rules we use to run our life are things we learned by the age of five. Preferences, biases, rules, in fact most of our belief system. Its also considered a bad thing. Letting our five year old brain dictate the way we live our lives and affect our choices. I don’t know about you but I was a pretty happy five year old. Life was more than okay. It was great. Things were simple and I certainly didn’t know much, but I knew enough. And I was learning. Things were pretty magical. Growing up had a way of tainting my mind. All of a sudden all around me was judgement and expectation. The teen years were the worst. All of a sudden there were acceptable ways of doing things. And of course unacceptable ways. So we start to make resolutions to change ourselves. Become more palatable to the world. Follow along. Fit in. Conform. But conform to what? You see, as adults we think the world is thinking about us. People really aren’t thinking about us. Other than to compare themselves as either better or worse. If they deem themselves better dressed, smarter, wealthier, more fun, or whatever… then they feel good. If you come out on top using this comparison yardstick, they feel bad. We all do it. It stems from Neanderthal survival instincts. The best survive. It is innate. Now the entire process is out of control. Bigger, better, more. I think deep down we all know the truth. We are all pretty awesome. God don’t make no junk.

I think this year I want to get in touch with my five year old side. Retirement is very much like a five year old. Get up. Eat. Do other stuff. Eat a few more times. Go to bed. Maybe I will get down on the floor a little more. Getting up is the hard part. Check out under the bed. Come spring, I might just lay in the grass. Watch the ants. So on February 15th that will be my resolution for the year. Or maybe I’ll start today. And try to do it for the rest of my life. I can learn a lot from the grandbabies in my life. Like Missy. Next time I want to get somewhere fast I will leave yesterday. Can’t argue with that logic.

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