25 Life Lessons for My Daughter
“Life is too short not to order the fries” and other gems from a single dad.
My father has never given me any advice.
The one time I remember him even trying was when I was 18 and on my way out of the house for the evening. As I recall, he briefly looked up from his newspaper and said, "You know about condoms, right?"
End of conversation.
Thank you, Obi Wan Kenobi.
In all seriousness, it always deeply wounded me that we never had any of those father-son conversations where he would counsel me about life and give me lessons of an admonitory or hortative nature that might provide a road map for how to live my life. Needless to say, ever since my daughter was born, I've been bombarding her with advice on a near-daily basis. It's almost pathological. It's as if I'm trying to imbue her with all my knowledge before I go gently into that good night.
My list of lessons that I want to pass down to her is virtually endless and constantly changing but I thought I'd write some of those lessons down here. Not only for posterity but also as a daily reminder to myself that one of the keys to parenting is consistency. Some of these lessons are humorous. Some are serious.
However, all of them are true...
(1) When posing for any photos, assume that the only people who will see them are me, your mother, your boss, and the dean of admissions.
(2) Lennon, not McCartney. Keith, not Mick. Page, not Plant.
(3) Life is too short not to order the fries.
(4) Never date a man who is rude to waiters, doesn't say "bless you" when you sneeze, or won't offer you his jacket when you're cold.
Never regret staying home alone with a good book.
(5) Never order drinks that are pink or come with an umbrella in them. Don't be fancy.
(6) Don't worry about being popular. The "weird" kids are much more fun and will end up being your most interesting friends. Also, when it comes to friends, you can't trump quality with quantity. Choose wisely. Who would you call to drive your white Bronco?
(7) Give charitably, generously and anonymously.
(8) Crocs are for people who have given up on life.
(9) Never cheat. Not on exams, the crossword puzzle, or your boyfriend.
(10) If you love someone, tell them. Don't hold back.
(11) It may be a small world but it's a huge planet. Grab every opportunity to see as much of it as you possibly can. Most people don't.
12) Keep your eye on the ball and follow through, both in sports and in life.
(13) Speaking of sports, pick a team and stick with them. There are few things more important in life than loyalty. It's a dying trait currently in short supply. Trust me. I'm a Mets fan.
(14) Never regret staying home alone with a good book.
(15) If you feel the need to reinvent yourself, at least be original. No tattoos unless you're in the armed forces. No body piercings unless you become a pre-Columbian tribal Aztec. No orange hair unless you join the circus.
(16) Learn from the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And always remember that the story is never over.
Learn to cook one thing really well.
(17) Don't make a scene.
(18) Learn how to entertain yourself. Close the door, crank up the stereo, and dork out. Invent new dance moves. Play the air guitar. Practise your touchdown moves. Too many people are self-conscious even when they're alone. Don't be one of those people.
(19) While you're at it, learn how to laugh at yourself.
(20) When you realise that everyone comes from a dysfunctional family, life gets a little easier and you feel a little less crazy. The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.
(21) Thank you notes are to be written promptly by hand on personal stationery. E-mails, phone calls and text messages don't count.
(22) Remember that nice guys do finish first. If you don't know that, then you don't know where the finish line is.
(23) Learn to cook one thing really well.
(24) Happiness is not fame, money or power. The key to life is finding your sweet spot.
(25) Take every piece of advice anyone ever gives you with a grain of salt.
What advice do you want to pass on to your kids? What's the one life lesson that you wished someone had taught you earlier? What's the best piece of advice you ever received from your parents? Am I the only one who never received any?
Spill it, folks. An inquiring mind wants to know.
This post was originally published on Metrodad: Poppycock from a Cocky Pop in July 2009.