About Me, Parenting

The Lessons I’d Pass On

Alice wrote a great entry at Wonderland today. It references Randy Pausch and the “Last Lecture” phenomenon which I caught onto several months ago. But – the point of Alice’s article was – what would you tell your children if you were not going to be there for them forever? What lessons would you want them to know? To remember forever?

I decided I’d try to come up with a list for my kids:

1) Remember the impact your subtle gestures and few words can have on someone’s day. Opt for being patient and spreading kindness. You won’t regret it.

I learned this lesson working fast food in high school. Nothing teaches you the value of a smile from a stranger more than serving hundreds of assholes for lunch.

2) There are always going to be people who don’t like you or who will make fun of you. Avoid them if you can, and if you can not? Try to ignore them. The more you think about their opinions of you the more power you give them. Don’t give them that power. Master a good EYEROLL, it is the best response to jerks.

Consider me an expert. I was called every insult in the book growing up. I had bad skin and wore a headgear with my braces. I was openly mocked for having to duplicate outfits during a week or wearing generic tennis shoes. I’ve been there, trust me.

3) There will be more people you encounter in your life that are different from you than are the same. Don’t blindly assume they can not teach you anything. Just because they wear different clothes doesn’t mean they can’t teach you about art. Or simply because they go to a different church (or any church at all) doesn’t mean they can’t recommend a good book. Be Open.

Even to republicans.

4) Don’t take those who take care of you for granted. Whether it’s a supportive spouse, a hard-working parent, or a thoughtful mentor. If they do something that helps you in any way, be thankful.

Seriously. Take it from the person who changed your diapers and washed your clothes: A little appreciation goes a long way. Especially if that appreciation takes the form of back rubs or pedicures.

5) When deciding who to hang out with, date, or marry – find people who make you laugh. Forget muscles, money, or hairlines. In the end – being surrounded by people who make you laugh will be the most valuable resource when times get tough.

Of course, this is easy for me to say. I married someone who is a damn hott stud. But he also makes me laugh.

6) Keep a good grasp on your inner child. Whether that means dressing up for Halloween, riding roller coasters, or doing chalk drawings in your driveway.

This also means laughing at farts. A lesson I’m still trying to teach myself.

What else would you add?

15 thoughts on “The Lessons I’d Pass On”

  1. Help others whenever possible in whatever way you can. It can be as simple as donating clothes or household items you no longer need to Good Will or the Salvation Army. If your favorite pizza place is doing a buy one get one free thing, give the free one to that family down the street (or, if you’re in an area where it’s “safe” to do so, to the homeless man holding a “will work for food sign). Volunteer to help the elderly couple down the road with chores (shovelling walks, mowing the lawn). Give money to charities. In the end, you’ll feel better about yourself knowing you’ve done all you could for someone who needs it. (And don’t expect some karmic payback. It might not happen. People might not thank you. Do it anyway.)

  2. It is really, really true that you will regret the things you did not do more than the many dumb things you did; so if there is something that you want to do or try: Do.

  3. I started to reply to Alice’s post and my comment got so long I ended up making it a post. I can’t imagine trying to pack everything I want my son to know into a goodbye speech before I die. As someone who votes Republican I appreciate your open mindedness.

  4. I’d like to second numbers 3 and 6. I married a totally hott, balding republican (I’m a democrat) who makes me laugh every single day, and I’ve never been happier.

  5. This is a wonderful post. Your answers are timeless and pretinent in every way. Your kids will love looking back on them some day!

    I hope you don’t mind, but I really want to steal this post – I’ll be sure to link. This OK?

  6. “Even to Republicans” brilliant. Also the laughing at farts part. Nice. I would add that just because you CAN buy something doesn’t mean you need it – don’t buy into the “get more” mentality.

    Great list.

  7. One day you’ll hurt someone and they may not be able to forgive you. But being truly repentant for your mistakes is always the best you can do.

  8. I think one of the most important things is to remember that your family is the group of people that will be there forever. Friends may fade. Friends may hurt you. But your family will be there forever, like it or not.

  9. Unfortunately, for me this isn’t a supposition. My children have lived with my chronic heart disease their entire life. They’ve seen me in and out of hospitals, so sick I was near death. They know that I’m not going to be around forever, or probably long enough to see them become parents of their own. I’ve always been completely honest with my kids about my illness because it’s an inherited problem and one we have to watch with both of them. So they know not only about my health, but that it could a might affect them as well.

    I think my kids are prepared for life as adults. I’ve instilled in them a great respect for being a good friend and ally. I’ve taught them about honesty and integrity and how to accept people for what they are and not what my kids think they should be.

    I’m really proud of my kids because all of those things have been incorporated into their lives as teenagers. They’re really lovely kids, albeit a bit obnoxious and nutty right now. But I have faith in them, that they will be good, honest, caring, liberal adults. Which is all I could ask for.

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