I quit making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. I can disappoint myself easily enough without actually making goals to do so. It’s not that I don’t want to be a better person, or a more palatable version of me, but it seems as soon as I resolve to do something, the rebel in me says, “Screw that. You aren’t telling ME what to do, Better Self. I am SO eating ALL the pizza.” I belch, look around me smugly because I ain’t part of no system and then realize that the only person who cares that I ate ALL the pizza is the offspring who was hoping for just one slice of pepperoni. I am literally a rebel without a cause.
Growing up in the 60s and 70s with fairly strict – okay, even though they read this – abnormally strict parents, my compass was opposition. I may not have been marching in Washington for Civil Rights, but I was getting a petition signed for the Right to Wear Tennis Shoes to School. Everybody else was wearing Chuckies and I was forced to wear Stride-Rite. I took it to the streets…or at least the junior high hallways. I ain’t parta your SYS-tem! I ended up grounded, fated to wear built-up saddle oxfords for my flat, pigeon-toed feet, with several sheets of paper with signatures on one side, and the other side on which I could doodle while I remained imprisoned in my room.
I rebelled in college. In my younger, half-of-my-current-self, prettier days, I was asked to be in a Greek swimsuit contest. I acquiesced, but with a plan. Under the borrowed faux fur coat, I would wear a 1900s version of a swimsuit. Think pantaloons. Word got out. The university feminists rallied, praising my courage. I still have the letter. I walked out onto the makeshift runway, took off the coat. I heard more boos than an Alabama player at an Auburn game. My resolve weakened and I removed the costume to reveal a 1980s swimsuit. I still didn’t win. Rebellion fail.
Rebelling runs in the family, whether or not it makes sense. When Boy Child turned 13, he announced proudly. “Now, I’m a teenager. I can REBEL.” Anyone who knew us had the same question, “Against WHAT?” Face it, we’re easy-going parents who have allowed him to build a go-kart from a futon, upgrade a potato cannon to something that probably shows up on NSA lists, and build a motorized bike after declaring “no motorcycles.” There is more, but I have time issues and high blood pressure. In his relatively short life, he’s commandeered a good portion of the basement, the entire garage and carport and much of the living space of the house. We let him be him. What is there to rebel against?
With Girl Child’s form of rebellion, I have to perform dances of diplomacy so intricate and choreographed that I’m often dizzy with the circling that ensues. “Will you please bring down your dirty clothes?”
She stomps with exasperation. “I was just getting ready to DO that!”
After a meal, I wait patiently while she prepares for takeoff. When it looks as if she’s going to make a run for it to her room, I tentatively suggest, “Take in your dishes, please.”
“Can’t you see that I was about to? Guh, Mom.”
She doesn’t want to be told what to do. I get that. I’m the same way. My mother would tell me to vacuum as I was plugging in the machine and it would make my blood curdle. Yet, when I patiently wait for Girl Child to bring down her laundry or take in her plate, her dirty clothes reach a height and contamination level that bring Hazmat suits to the scene and the vermin, cockroaches and flies circling the dirty dishes have grandchildren joining them. Rebel if you will, sweet child, but for God’s sakes consider the ramifications of the Health Department getting involved.
I suppose it’s human nature to rebel. It must be what keeps us from toddling off the edge of the cliff, in lemming fashion. The collective might believe that the emperor is clothed quite nicely, thank you, but the inkling of rebellion tells us that he’s buck freaking naked. A rebellious attitude can propel us forward. I never did get to wear sneakers to junior high, but I distinctly remember being able to step away from saddle oxfords.
When I get down to it, I realize that buying Daisy was a bit of a rebellion. I’m going to buy a vintage camper, have it hauled from Michigan, restore it and make it my writing studio. Then I’m taking it to Bonnaroo and horse shows and I’ll travel across the country in it. I’ll give away canned hams to people in need and I’ll write a blog. Take that!
Much like my offspring, though, I don’t have anything to rebel against. People love the idea of Daisy. ADORE the thought of her giving away canned hams. Yearn to see her restoration. And that’s where my rebellious nature needs to make way for resolve, nee resolution. A loose definition of resolution is to make a firm decision to do (or not do) something. How can even MY rebellious nature take offense at making a firm decision to finish Daisy’s restoration? It can’t. Therefore I declare my first New Year’s Resolution in a decade or more: I will complete Daisy’s restoration by spring.
As long as Boy Child doesn’t rebel when I ask for his help.