- I don't know why, but I feel compelled to start by saying that I'm not perfect. I don't know everything about everything, I won't pretend that I do. This post isn't meant to be preachy.
I sense you know this already, or at least are beginning to suspect it, like the other day when you were having a problem with your math homework, and I told you "don't ask me" and you made a grunting sound and said "Don't worry, I wouldn't even bother."
When I was a teenager (back in the nineteen hundreds), I had the idea that my parents thought they knew everything, but they actually knew nothing.
But let me tell you, I do not know everything, nor do I think that I do. There is a lot, I will admit, that I don't know. I pick up a cell phone and have to ask you to turn it on. The damn things are so complicated. Back in my day there were no cameras in the phones. A phone was a phone. Period.
Anyways, these are uncharted waters for me, too, and believe me you, I'm more than a little nervous about what lies ahead. I may not do everything right. I may not say everything right. And honestly- I don't even think there is a 'right'. All I want to do is try to guide you through the next few years, to the best of my ability.
I don't know everything. But I do know some stuff. I hope you will, at least, give me that much credit.
-Out of anything and everything I could possibly tell you, there is one thing that I want you to know, and not just know on an intellectual level, but on a level deeper than that. To the very core of your being. Do not give in to peer pressure, especially when it comes to drugs. You are allowed to make mistakes as a teenager. I even hope that you do, though, probably- I don't want to hear about them. Experience is a wonderful teacher. But in this instance, experience is a very bad teacher. The kind that takes advantage of their students and has to do jail time.
Drugs are harmful and dangerous, in ways that I can't even really describe. I could go on Wikipedia and print out a list of side effects, but it just doesn't describe what I have seen, what I have felt when I have seen the pain in the people I work with, the burden that they carry that is addiction. I have looked addiction in the eye and it is an ugly, ugly, beast. I have seen young girls with track marks on their arms, their bodies mere skeletons, their eyes hollow and dark in their sockets. They looked ruined. And they are, I think.
And it only started with "just trying it", "just once."
Please do not go down that path.
And know in your heart that any friend who tries to make you do something you don't want to do isn't a friend at all.
-This one pains me to say it, but life won't always be fair.
As your parent, I have tried to protect you from the often harsh realities of the world. I have tried to create an environment for you that is safe, and loving and warm. But as you begin to have your own experiences in the broader world, I won't be able to protect you from the fact that, sometimes, life just plain out sucks. As Dr. Suess says "Bang ups an hang ups can happen to you."
And they will. But just know that this is all part of the process.
And it, too, will pass.
That heartbreak you think you'll never get over?
Well, you will.
Of course you will.
-It's okay to be sensitive. I see such a sensitive side to you, the child that asks me how my day was when I get home from work, rather than just "What's for supper?" The child that cried at the end of Marley and Me. That snuck into Paytons room after I sent her to bed, and read her that extra story that she begged me for. That makes me my peppermint tea when I am tired at the end of the day, and asks me if I want cream and sugar in it.
-It's okay to cry.
-Even though it will feel like it at the time, getting a zit is not the end of the world.
And no, the entire HIGH SCHOOL won't notice it.
And no, you won't be the laughing stock of the WHOLE WORLD.
It's all part of the process.
It, too, will pass.
And there will be always be Clearasil.
-I hope you know that you can always talk to us. There is no problem too big or too small. I can't guarantee that I will have the answers. In fact, I probably won't. For most things, there are no easy answers. But talking helps. And you can talk to us. About anything.
-Your socks? Are supposed to be changed on a daily basis, not biweekly, as you seem to have assumed.
-I hope that you respect women. I don't really want to go into this whole area with you right now, cuz it's kind of awkward, but it doesn't pay to be a playa. OK. What goes around comes around. Plus you could get all kinds of nasty diseases. And I know that scare tactics don't work, but what the hell? This is a picture of a venereal wart.See, it's nasty. So think about that. Anyways, this is way premature anyways.
You're a long way from that, years, decades- maybe, even. OK, years. I think. I hope.
But even aside from that, treat women well in general. Think about the fact that every girl is someone else's daughter, possibly someones little sister. Treat them the way you would want someone else to treat your own little sister. With respect and dignity. Always be a gentleman.
-I hope that you, someday, appreciate your siblings. I know that sometimes they can be annoying- OK, most of the time. I know that they did lose your XBox games and your MP3 player.
But some day you will need those siblings.
And they need you. They need a big brother to look up to.
And I know that being the oldest is hard, and we expect a lot out of you. But it also a great privilege.
You get to be their hero growing up.
So be it.
-I know that I don't always show it- it's much more fun to tease you about your shaggy hair, but I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the young adult you're becoming more and more every day. I see you sometimes helping your brother or you sister. You make me laugh every day with your sense of humor that is quirky and silly- not unlike my own. You're smart at school, without ever trying too hard or taking yourself too seriously. You are confident without being arrogant. You have a soft and kind heart. You're not afraid to call your grandma your friend, to post on your facebook status that you love your mother (even though- yes I know, it was just copied and pasted.) Don't be afraid to be yourself. Real friends accept you for exactly the person you are.
Lastly, enjoy the ride.
My parents once told me "Youth is wasted on the young."
I wasn't sure what that meant. Frankly, I'm still not sure I do. But I think it means that teenagers are often times too young to appreciate the boundless energy and passion that they possess. They take it for granted.
Don't waste your youth. There are few times in your life when you get to do basically whatever you want. So I hope you live large, dream big, laugh lots, break your curfew a time or two.
Okay, maybe not the last one.
Live large within the confines or your curfew.