Today is my first born child’s birthday. His 17th. Days like this I find myself thinking about the character of my children. Of course I reminisce about holidays and vacations and those special milestones in kids’ lives that all of us moms remember even when everyone else has long forgotten. But as I get older – well, not much really – I’m still very young! – I think about who my kids really are. And, who I want them to be. So today, in honor of my 17 year-old son I’m sharing some of the little pearls of wisdom I hope he has learned and will always remember. Some of these may be good advice for you too!
1. Share. Share your time, your resources, your knowledge, your love…. Share. Being selfish is easy but it’s ugly. Everything isn’t always about you. Everyone else is important too. Sharing is easy, it makes you feel good about yourself and it just may be the most important thing to happen in the other person’s life.
2. Wash your hands before you eat. Seriously. Your mitts have been everywhere, touching things that are filthy and germ infested. Please for the love of all that’s good, don’t put dirty hands on your food and then put said food in your mouth. It’s gross. It will make you sick. And well…..it’s just gross.
3. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone. Every single time. Even if the hurt was unintentional – sometimes those are the most painful ones. If you hurt them physically this is a much easier conclusion to come to. But after causing emotional pain is when we sometimes forget to apologize. Emotional pain lasts a very long time – sometimes forever. It’s much easier to try to forget about hurting someone, or to pretend it didn’t happen. Don’t ignore it. Look people in the eye and say you’re sorry – and mean it.
4. Look both ways, hold hands and stick together. Think about your decisions, make informed ones. Stay close with the people who love you. You were given a support system at birth – utilize it. You don’t have to go through things alone. Share your worries and fears – talking about them usually gives you a whole new perspective – and it lightens the weight on your shoulders a bit.
5. Don’t yell at your mother. It’s rude. And I guarantee it almost never ends well.
6. Put things back where you found them. Of course you can use the multi-tool screwdriver thingy out of the glove box of the car. But please please please put it back when you’re done. It’s really not cool to be sitting on the side of the road and need that screwdriver thingy to change a tire when someone didn’t return it to it’s home. It makes for a tired, rain-soaked, extremely unhappy parent.
7. Tell the truth. All the time. I’ve learned the hard way. When you don’t, you end up in places that you never ever wanted to be. It’s not easy – you may be embarrassed, you may get in trouble, you may lose something that you wanted to keep, you may even hurt someone. But lies are never good. And, if you do hurt someone in the process – see #3.
8. Flush. Always. No exceptions. No one wants to open the lid and find a surprise. Ever.
9. Use your inside voice. Don’t yell at others. Cheering and hearty greetings are exceptions to this rule. Otherwise – don’t yell.
10. Be patient. Not everything happens on the timetable we would like. When the driver in front of you is going 5 miles over the speed limit already, don’t grumble and mumble and drive like an idiot in an effort to get around them so you can get to where you’re going 10 seconds faster. It’s not worth the risk.
11. Remember birthdays. Write them on a calendar if your memory isn’t the greatest. Being remembered by the people we love is important. You wouldn’t want your birthday to come and go and no one acknowledge it. Acknowledge others.
12. Be kind and respectful to the garbage men. They are doing the most important job in our society – one that no one really wants to do. They are taking away our trash so we don’t have to. They deserve respect.
13. Be a friend. On the surface this one is simple – but in order to make and keep real friends – you must be one. Be loyal, be honest with them, support them, help them when they’re in trouble, keep their secrets….share their joys and their sadness. Show them they can always count on you.
14. Notice the little things. Sunsets, wildflowers, kittens’ whiskers, the changing leaves in autumn, the sound of water flowing over rocks in a stream…. Pay attention.
15. Laugh. Enjoy life. Bad things happen to all of us. We all have problems and worries. Deal with them the best you can and then laugh. Smiles are beautiful and laughter makes you feel better.
16. Don’t forget to say “I love you.” We all need to know that we’re loved. And the reality is, we never know what the next minute holds – don’t miss a chance to say how you feel. You don’t want to regret keeping your emotions to yourself.
17. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Electricity is expensive.
18. Conserve gas. We’re killing the Earth and the prices are ridiculous.
19. Go outside. Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim. Breathe fresh air.
20. Vote. You have no right to complain about the state of things if you don’t vote.
21. Do everything in moderation. Food, drinks, play…. don’t become all-consumed with something and let it take over your life. Stay balanced.
I think all of us could use a reminder to do things like these from time to time. Our world has become so busy that most of us don’t feel like we have a spare minute in our day. We need to slow down. Say “no” sometimes. You don’t have to be on every committee and attend every function. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Look at the stars. Relax. Life is short and time goes by so quickly. Do things you love with people you love. Enjoy it.
Oh, and the last pearl….(this one is just for my son, but believe there is someone that feels the same way about you)
22. Never ever forget how very much I love you.