Not joint as in smoking pot together, as some families do. Joint as in resolving what a prosperous new year would mean for all, with parents and kids working on the same goals. A family plan.
Mr. Rodriguez chuckled at my analogy and remembered his grandfather always warned that if you can’t pay for it, you shouldn’t be buying it.
I’m not so sure the teenagers, and there are several in the family, were as excited about the layaway plan as the younger kids seemed to be. Here's how the plan is supposed to work:
In 2013, the teenagers will spend as much time with their younger brothers and sisters as they do with their “homies.”
The time will be evenly divided between academics, fun stuff and electronic gadgets. No time sheets or other documentation are required because, I’m told, the younger kids are great tattle-tales.
Whoa, hold it! Why would teenagers make this crazy commitment?
No interest incurred, mom announced. The younger kids resolve to give back for the helpful attention. For the entire 12 months of 2013 they will not agitate, make up tales (and it seems they always do) or report to the parents what the older ones have and have not done.
The only reports the young-uns can make is about the help they get.
Youngsters in the family not being a pest? Unheard of, but the Rodriguez bunch is resolved to make it happen.
Pop? He won’t turn on the TV as soon as he comes in tired from work and then sit in front of it to fall asleep for most of the evening. Instead he will make it to the dinner table, where he can listen to his kids and learn about their day.
He will try very hard throughout the new year to remind himself that the things his father and grandfather did when raising a family will not make sense in 2013, since they didn’t work very well in 2012.
Mom? She’s going to spend household money on herself, sleep late every day, forget to do the laundry, stop cooking good food and start hanging out with women who don’t have children. Finally, she’s going to stop dreaming that her family made meaningful New Year’s resolutions for 2013.
SHIRLEE SMITH is an Altadena resident, parent and author of “They're Your Kids, Not Your Friends.” She can be reached by email at email@example.com and online at talkaboutparenting.org.