As I wait impatiently for Jake to take to the college launch pad (it’s still two weeks away, will this never end), I have been reviewing my parenting over the years and wondering if I hit the high spots well enough to be confident that he’ll know what to do out there on his own (in particular, out there in Barcelona, biggest party city in the world, from what every single person I have spoken to about Barcelona, says. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON.) This lead me to think about the really most important stuff I think taught my kids. Or, let’s just be real, that I think I taught them, but they may think I never mentioned.
1. Do your best. I have always told my competitive kids that all they had to ever do is their best. I mean, can you do better than your best? No, no you can’t. So, if you’re doing your best, then that’s all you can do and whatever the result, is the best result you could get. You know, because it’s your best. There’s nothing more to say here, is there?
2. Be nice. Gosh being nice is a good thing. I can’t believe how grateful I am when someone is nice to me. Even people I know well. Being nice can help you make friends and keep them. It can help you get a job and excel at it. And at the end of the day, it can help you feel like you’ve made the world a little bit better. Because you have.
3. Be polite. A cousin of “Be nice,” being polite wins points all over the place. Say “please”, say “gracias.” Shake someone’s hand. Send a “thank you” note. These things still matter. A lot, in fact.
4. Be a leader. Don’t follow the pack, unless the pack is doing something you think is really smart, or right, or good. Stand on your own two healthy feet, use your own unique and sensible brain, and make smart, good decisions. And then, you be the leader.
5. Be generous and help out. The world is full of people who need more than they have. I say, give what you can, in time, in money, in empathy. Lending a hand, can change someone else’s path for the better. It can also change your own path for the better, too.
6. Be optimistic. You might as well. What have you got to lose by looking at the bright side? This doesn’t mean, be ignorant. It just means to believe good things can happen. They can.
7. Be resilient. Maybe this is the most important of all the things I tried to get into my kids. This is one of the big ones to master. How do you get through the rough times? When you feel squashed by any number of things, and like you want to hide behind the shower curtain in the bathroom indefinitely, what do you do? You step outta that bathroom and take a step toward the next thing. Nothing lasts forever, not even the good stuff, unfortunately. So when a tsunami hits, you have to ride out the rough wave, tumble, churn, and then get up and walk your pretty self down the beach afterward. Life is good at throwing us curve balls. It’s fine to feel down, just so long as you don’t stay there. Shake it off. Learn how to push the forward button and move on.You will have to do it a bajillion times. Know that you can do this. Know you possess the strength. Know it will always get better.
Of course, there’s other stuff I tried in vain to teach them–clean your room, put your dishes in the dishwasher not the sink. Put your clothes in your dresser, and not on the floor of your room like a rug. Think. Turn off your fucking computer and the stupid TV once in a while and read a book. Listen to music. Dance. Exercise. Go to the beach. Laugh as much as humanly possible every single day. Call your mother.
The truth is, I’ll be grateful if they learned even one of these things, right? Barcelona, here he comes. Ready, or not.