I’d love to tell you these things in person, but I know that they’d be met with a scowl and a promise to do the exact opposite of whatever I’ve suggested. You are my child after all. So instead, I’m writing you a private letter on my blog for all the world to see.
I had a list of advice for your sister at the end of last year, and here are my words of wisdom for you as you start your first official year of real deal school. If I repeat anything, that’s because it’s super important and also because I’m old and senile.
1. Don’t play football. Really, don’t even ask for permission to play football, because I won’t give it. You have a beautiful, weird brain that can recognize movie scores after a few notes and could recognize letters at 15 months. Don’t play a sport that could increase your likelihood of brain damage and concussion. Consider golf, maybe. Or swimming. Or competitive Tetris. I know none of those are 100% safe, but I’m playing the odds here.
2. You don’t have to like everyone, but you must be kind to everyone. The kid sitting next to you in kindergarten who eats glue and picks his nose may grow up to be a kick ass dude who loves Star Wars as much as you do. He might even have a lake house. It’s good to have friends with lake houses. (As long as you don’t befriend someone simply because s/he has a lake house. That would be kind of a dick move.) We all do things that might land us on the wrong side of the ridicule game. Don’t judge, accept. Embrace. Be the kid whom other parents want their kids to befriend.
3. And if any of your friends tries to pressure you into bullying another kid (or, really, tries to pressure you into doing anything mean or stupid), reevaluate those friendships because those may not be friends you want to keep. Don’t be afraid to break away from the herd. There are lots of people out there worth knowing and spending time with. Don’t stick with those who threaten to bring you down. Find friends who challenge you to be better in all areas of your life.
4. Do what makes you happy. Try all the things so that you can figure out what you like to do, and then do those things. Everyone else might be playing basketball, but if you’d rather be painting or playing soccer or learning guitar — do that instead. Life’s too short.
5. But, also, study. Work. Soak up every bit of knowledge you can and develop a good work ethic. This will serve you well for the rest of your days as a student and for the rest of your life. For the next seventeen years (maybe more), your main job will be to go to school and learn stuff while hanging out with your friends. Develop discipline right from the start, because it’s easier to keep doing something you’ve always done than to try and shoehorn new behavior into your own patterns. I speak from experience. Do as I say, not as I did (which was all of my high school homework during homeroom).
6. Read fiction. The schools are all about pushing non-fiction books now, but screw that noise. Read, escape, learn to respect and understand how other people from other walks of life think and feel. Also, I can’t wait to discuss Harry Potter and Game of Thrones with you, my dear geek boy.
7. Never forget that you can tell me anything. Or if you don’t want to tell me, tell your dad or one of your grandparents. Tell your aunts and uncles. Tell someone. We are all here for you. We love you. We support you. We want you to thrive and to succeed.
[Ed. note: I meant to link to Erin Skibinski’s fabulous post on this topic from last week, but I screwed the pooch this morning. Here it is.]
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