I started this post in 2014 and never finished it. Living through this momentous time together, especially as they are on the cusp of adulthood, has given me the impetuous to finish it.
Here are a few of the things I want my kids to know before they grow up.
1. Being kind matters. Being nice to others is important. Politeness counts, and so does common courtesy, even when you feel like the other person doesn’t deserve it.
2. You should have a few life skills: a good meal you cook well, knowing how to drive a stick shift, the ability to swim, riding a bike, and how to balance your check book.
3. Everybody should have a hobby. Even if it seems weird to others, you should have something that you enjoy doing to pass the time.
4. You won’t always be the best. And that is OK. What’s important is to do your best when it matters (and you’ll know when it matters).
5. Not everybody wins every time. Know when to pick your fights, when to walk away, and when the difference matters.
6. Friends matter. Having lots of friends is good, but having a few close friends that you can count on is essential. Know who you can go for a walk around the block with, who you can complain about your parents to, and who will help you solve a problem.
7. Be assertive, kindly and politely, and don’t back down if you know it’s important to you.
8. Taking leaps is important. Try something that is hard for you to think of doing. You may not want to do it again, but you probably won’t regret trying it.
9. So is standing still. Know how to be bored. Put your phone down and forget where you put it. Know when to not take that leap–not every mountain needs to be conquered.
10. Own up to your responsibilities, your mistakes and your accomplishments. If you did something, say so. If you didn’t do something, say that too. If you’re good at doing something, say it proudly!
11. Make a list, check it twice. And get it done. Sometimes the hardest thing is getting started, but once you start it’s never as hard as you feared.
12. We’re all important to someone. Know who you are important to, because they will cheer you on forever. It doesn’t have to be just your mom, it can be your friends, your boss, your teacher.
13. School is important, but so is learning about the world in other ways. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Get lost in a YouTube series.
14. Tell the truth, but know when it’s not worth it. Sometimes a white lie prevents lots of problems.
15. Nobody’s perfect. And get out of your own head! You notice your imperfections and (perceived) flaws way more than anyone else does…they’re too busy concentrating on themselves.
16. Money matters. Put in the work now to give yourself the freedom later. You might not want to stay in school for years and years, but do you really want to be doing shift work or manual labor when you’re 60?
17. You are who you are. Be proud of that person. Own your lived experience. I love you.