1. SHORT RESOLUTIONS. Okay, one of my New Year’s resolutions is already broken. To work on getting my body mass index into the healthily fit and not just acceptable range, I had vowed to cut out all desserts. But last night, my family and I shared a slice of tiramisu at an Italian restaurant. I suppose I could kid myself into believing that eating just a quarter of a dessert doesn’t constitute a real breaking of a vow. But rather than cling to any false victory, I will take full pride in this year’s honestly gained achievement. I went a full 42 hours before breaking a resolution. So for me 2015 sets a record for determination and self-discipline that I’ve never reached before!
2. CUTE CURLICUES. These are the comments made at the dinner table by me and my youngest when we eat rotini pasta. Me: Look at these cute little curlicues. My youngest: Look, it’s an alpha helix like the secondary structure of a polypeptide. And yes, if you’re thinking it must be difficult to always tell who is the child and who is the adult in my house, you would be absolutely correct.
3. JIBBER-JABBER. I am either aging so much faster than my children that I am getting increasingly out of touch or else I am living in an episode of the Twilight Zone – the one where the words for everything a man hears from everyone around him gradually change until every spoken exchange sounds like gibberish to him, and he has to resort to a children’s book in the new language to relearn how to converse with his family and friends. As an example of this, I would submit what my eldest said to her sister the other day – “Me and my baes are getting turnt tonight.” (I have absolutely no idea what this means!!)
4. MULTI-CHANNEL ICE-BREAKING. When I was in high school, about the only option boys had to break the ice with a girl they liked was to try to say something clever when she passed by in the hall. I hear from my daughters, though, that now when a boy is interested he might friend request a girl on Facebook, invite her into a Google+ circle, or follow her on Tumblr or Instagram. And I guess if they’re really courageous, they might run the table and try every possible social media channel simultaneously. I don’t know if these new avenues of communication deliver any higher success rates, but all these multiple opportunities for contact must at least offer today’s boys a higher level of hope!
5. PRONE TO PANIC. My wife told me she recently watched a documentary about Navy Seals and learned that a big part of their training is getting exposed to panic-inducing situations. So they’re forced to swim across pools with their feet bound together and their hands tied behind their backs, and they’re taught to deal with hypothermia by having to stand naked while being sprayed with freezing cold water. In every situation, they try to implement a four-step process for overcoming the brain’s automatic reactions to stress. First, they strive to focus on the task at hand and set a goal. Next, they attempt to look at the problem from multiple angles and consider two or three possible solutions. They also work to avoid the negative self-talk that might convince them they can’t handle the situation. Finally, they aim to overcome the body’s physical arousal in these situations by doing things like breathing calmly. I wasn’t sure if she was mentioning this to me because it’s well-known in my family that she maintains the much cooler head in these situations. After one day of downhill skiing by myself, I arrived at my car to discover the zipper to my right coat pocket had broken and the keys to my car were probably buried in snow on one of the slopes far above me. Since the ski lodged had already closed, I called her in a highly agitated state. I imagined I’d have to wait two hours in the freezing cold parking lot while she drove the 100 miles north to come get me. But she calmly reminded me that all I had to do was call AAA. I’m not sure why that didn’t occur to me. (I’ll blame the cold!) It seems there are only two potential solutions to this problem of my hair-trigger internal panic button. I could undergo some simulation of Navy Seal training, or I could always keep my wife close by my side. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m opting for the latter.