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Michelle Lovato: Resolution: Can We Get Along?

Posted: December 30, 2008 9:21 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2008 4:30 a.m.

The best home video I ever saw came from my daughter Melissa five years ago - shortly after she turned 16.

Melissa was one of those mischievous types who drove a parent batty in three seconds flat, knew every pushable parental button and wasn't afraid to use it.

It was our New Year's Eve Party, 2003, a somber occasion in which my girls, who were 16, 13 and 9, found themselves trapped in a closed 10-foot-by-12-foot room with no television, computer or radio, staring at baby-blue walls.

My 78-year-old mother-in-law sat in her customary rocker in the middle of her living room with my 52-year-old brother-in-law on the couch watching Iron Chef on TV. Exciting.

As I accepted my fate and slumped onto an uncushioned wicker patio loveseat with my marital lump, I couldn't help wondering what was happening beyond the closed door where my girls were sequestered.

Every now and then I heard a giggle and a "stop it" and a yelp for which my mother-in-law shot me dirty looks I pretended not to see.

After about an hour I wondered if I was hopelessly comatose, experiencing a horrendous nightmare or possibly stuck in Purgatory.

But alas, it was a typical New Year's Eve celebration with the family. Boredom was all around me.

Finally, I smiled politely and announced my intention to use the bathroom, then shot toward the only room that showed any potential for fun.

Every blanket and pillow once tucked into the double bed lay strewn across the floor, and my two youngest girls sat perched together like twins telling Melissa's video camera their New Year's resolutions.

Melissa swung the camera in my direction and caught me dumbfounded. She turned off the camera.
"I'm so bored. This is the worse New Year's Eve I've ever had. I've never seen such a dead crowd," she snarled. I had to agree.

"Just be polite. Your grandmother might die this year and you'll regret this moment for the rest of your life," I said. Guilt.

My daughter gave me a death look and trained the video camera back on me.

"I resolve to lose weight," I smiled.

Melissa rolled her eyes.

"You resolve that every year."

I wanted to kill her right there, but instead I warned her to be nice and walked back to Mr. Perfect Son in the living room and informed him I would get the midnight apple juice toast ready.

Soon Melissa and her sisters breached the doorway and began videotaping the family's resolutions.

When Melissa turned her back to them and approached the apple juice cups on the counter, she rolled her eyes again.

"This is ridiculous," she lipped.

How could I raise such a sarcastic child?

She made fun of everything - the juice, the clock, Dick Clark wishing everyone a Happy New Year. She showed herself and her sisters fainted on the couch and added commentary after her relatives' resolutions like "insightful," "understandable" and "that's original."

After it was over, my dear sarcastic, offended, smart-alecky daughter donned her nice face and offered to play the tape.

Slowly the night replayed like a documentary of how not to have fun. Her commentary was hilarious, albeit totally unacceptable.

Finally, her surprise ending ...

Melissa in front of the camera.

"This was my New Year's Eve 2003. As you can see, it was a barrel of fun!"

She smiled like the Mona Lisa.

"You heard everyone's resolution," she said. "Now it's time for mine."

Melissa moved in on the camera so her face was in full view.

"I resolve to be more tolerant this year."

Five years later I'm here to tell you: That didn't happen, either.

Michelle Lovato is a Signal staff writer.


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