A Fresh Start ...

Every year I set nearly the same list of resolutions—write a book, lose weight, learn math—and by the end of the year I've not only failed at them all, I've gained 10 pounds. It's not like my goals are unreasonable, it's just that like most college-educated Americans I find it much easier to make excuses than extra trips to the gym. Thankfully, when the ball drops in NYC, I get a fresh start and a new chance to set goals I won't accomplish.

But when the clock struck midnight and we shook our noisemakers to ring in 2008, I spent less time thinking about my resolutions and more time wondering what kind of resolutions my five-month-old daughter would make. I know her mind doesn't currently work in goal-setting terms, but that doesn't mean she isn't ambitious. Take Christmas, for example. Santa meant very little to her, but her eyes lit up when presents were, well, present. And, without direction, she knew exactly what to do with them: grab present, unwrap present, eat wrapping paper. OK, so she may not have it 100% right, but she did show some cognition. Plus, as an added bonus, her poop came out gift-wrapped.

So the two of us sat down and had a heart to heart about our goals for the new year. I laid out my expectations of her physical and mental growth—including crawling, walking and talking—while she explained to me in no uncertain terms how she planned to pull off her sock and dunk it in my Mt. Dew.

After much posturing and negotiation, we agreed upon a list of 10 resolutions (each). They are as follows:

I promised to introduce healthier foods into my diet.
She promised to introduce solid foods into her diet.

I promised to keep my sense of humor.
She promised to keep her chubby cheeks.

I promised to learn all the lyrics to "The Farmer in the Dell."
She promised to learn all the lyrics to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

I promised to work on my long division skills.
She promised to work on her crawling and walking skills.

I promised to keep my swearing to a minimum.
She promised that her first word would be "Dad."

I promised to watch "SportsCenter" a little less and "Dora the Explorer" a little more.
She promised to stop eating the remote.

I promised to stop poking fun at her huge noggin.
She promised to stop poking fun at my huge noggin.

I promised to give her alone time with her mom.
She promised to give me alone time with her mom.

I promised not to be too overprotective.
She promised not to date until she's 25.

And finally, the 10th resolution was not only the same for both of us, but also the most important: We promised to wake up with a smile each and every day. It's a resolution that should go without saying, but sometimes needs to be said. After all, no matter how difficult yesterday seemed, each morning the ball drops again and you get another chance at a fresh start.

I know that history is working against me, but if I work hard I think I can reach all my goals. I think Ella can too. Maybe this time next year instead of complaining about opportunities missed, we'll be celebrating our success.

Let's just hope I'm 10 pounds lighter when doing it.

The Life of Dad is updated most Fridays (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

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