Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I know. Most people make resolutions on Jan. 1. But every year in late May, I feel compelled to make summer resolutions involving our two boys. We’re at home more in the summer. So I resolve to do a better job of teaching our boys good manners, work ethic, personal hygiene, room cleanliness, financial responsibility, acts of random kindness and better attitude.
It’s a tall order considering the fact that both of our boys tend to throw their dirty socks under the bed and turn on each other with sharp sticks. It’s an even taller order when I consider the fact that I myself have filled a laundry basket with things I need to “go through when I get some time.” And my random acts of kindness have been much less frequent since I’ve been screaming things like, “Stop fighting! Don’t make me come in there! I’m serious. You DO NOT want me to come in that room.” Life is one big lesson in humility at our house.
Truthfully, my summer resolutions are motivated by one thing only … a desperate fear of my future daughters-in-law. I have nightmares about facing those two lovely women. I see visions of myself, battered and tired, and hanging my head in embarrassment and shame. I mean, how can I possibly explain why a 25-year-old man can’t use a hamper? How will I help her understand that we really believed he’d “outgrow” his fascination with Star Wars video games and showering without soap? Could a grown woman accept the fact that a man wearing wrinkled pants was raised by fine upstanding parents who did their best? When I think about the possibilities, I get cold chills.
We’re not trying to produce perfect men. That would be impossible. But if they go into business together, I don’t want to drive by their place of business and see them chasing each other with sticks in the parking lot. I don’t want them to buy new dishes or new underwear because they’re too lazy to wash the dirty ones. I don’t want them to shower without soap and then wear too much Old Spice. Of course, wrinkled clothes would be tolerable if one of them ends up as a brilliant scientist who works in an environment where people say things like, “Of course, he wears wrinkled pants … he’s a rocket scientist.” Or “He NEVER washes his coffee cup and his desk is a mess, but you know what they say about him … he’s brilliant.” However, if our boys are anything less than over-the-top brilliant, they most definitely need to learn to use an iron and some dish soap. I think it might be wise to prepare for the worst case scenario, don’t you?
If there’s one area that scares me most of all, it’s the area of finances. Right now money burns a hole in their britches. I choose not to think about them using their mortgage money to buy a trampoline and a trip to Disney. We’re hoping some financial tough love between now and then can prevent that unfortunate scenario.
In closing, I’d like to share a few words with our future daughters-in-law. This summer we’re working with the boys on some practical life skills. But I can’t make any promises. One thing I can promise. We’re doing our best to teach them to love sacrificially. If they learn that one thing well, maybe you won’t notice the clothes on the floor.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.27.09