Brigitte Bowers: Resolutions for those that need them most

December 27, 2013 

Brigitte Bowers

Thank God the holidays are almost over. I can now look forward to Easter, a low-key affair in my home, and the Fourth of July, which is by far the best holiday of the year since it requires absolutely no effort at all on my part.

However, I still have to get through the dreaded tradition of New Year’s resolutions.

Like many people, I have only ever kept a few of my resolutions. This year, however, it occurred to me that the problem with resolutions is that they put the burden of improvement on me, and since I am so unreliable, such a strategy could only be a losing proposition.

Also, I am not all that unhappy with myself the way I am. And then I had an epiphany: If reformation is the end goal of resolutions, wouldn’t it be more efficient – and pleasant – to make resolutions for others, who will then change their annoying habits to benefit me?

Forthwith, I have listed the New Year’s resolutions for my household. I begin the list with my pets, and topping it is my dog Monty, a Great Pyrenees who is a never-ending source of bad behavior. Here is his resolution:

I, Monty, resolve to curb my appetite for people food. I have come to understand that I have a real problem. Maybe the 2-pound box of See’s Christmas candy, which I devoured in its entirety, leaving behind nothing but the shredded box and drool, can serve as a catalyst for changing my ways. Though no harm ever seems to come to me from my excesses – perhaps because I have the digestive system of a small polar bear – I recognize that my gluttony is nevertheless a social liability, and I hereby resolve to stay out of the garbage, off the counter and away from the pantry. Moreover, I will not cruise the house looking for food left briefly unattended, such as the ham sandwich left on the coffee table yesterday.

My next resolution is for Lucy, our rat terrier who is house trained but nevertheless seems to prefer the rug in the living room over the grass in the backyard for her private needs whenever the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit:

I, Lucy, resolve to treat the oriental rug with more respect. While it is true that I am undeniably cute 95 percent of the time, I also recognize that my allure diminishes considerably when I am squatting just inside the rug’s fringed border, about to pee, at exactly the same time as my mistress happens to walk into the room. I will recall the mantra “bad dog, bad dog, bad dog” whenever the urge to pee on the rug threatens to overtake my better judgment.

Enforcing any kind of change on my cats is probably only an exercise in futility, and so I have composed the following resolution for them because they will undoubtedly be able to keep it:

We, Lily and Belle, resolve to remain just as we are: aloof and demanding, forever wanting outside and then, only minutes later, back inside, throughout the afternoon and evening, because it is our way. Those who disapprove can just suck it up.

The 2014 resolutions won’t be complete without some commitments from the humans in my household, and so I offer the following for them:

We, Everett and Casey, resolve to never again wait until five minutes before we must leave for school to tell our mother that she needs to fill out three pages of permission slip papers, including insurance information, so that we can participate in some activity we are only at that moment remembering we want to do. Plus, we will make our beds in the mornings. At least sometimes.

I, Matthew, resolve that a husband’s cooking project is never really done until he has cleaned up the whole entire mess, and that letting the dogs lick up dropped food is not the same as washing the floor.

I look forward to everyone in my home getting started on their resolutions, which will certainly improve the quality of my life. I just hope they don’t come up with any bothersome resolutions for me.

Brigitte Bowers is a lecturer in the Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced.

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