At the beginning of the previous school year, I had a friend tell me how excited she was about her son’s senior year. “There are so many things to look forward to – parties, proms and, of course, graduation,” she gushed.
To which I responded, “You know this movie ends badly, right? I’ve seen it before and in the end, the prince and princess leave you. The end.”
She was a newbie. I had to set her straight. And in the next few weeks, she’ll join our sad little club.
Soon, our No. 2 will be leaving the nest, just like her sister did.
No. 1 is blond and green eyed, with a heart of gold like her daddy.
No. 2 is all mine. She’s little darker, a little tougher, a little mouthier. I know what she’s thinking before she says it, because I’m thinking it, too.
Oh, the dreams I have for her.
Most times when I’m talking to her, I feel like I’m talking to my younger self. She rolls her eyes and doesn’t want to hear it. Much like I didn’t want to. And that’s OK, because if life has taught me anything, it’s that in the end, we all figure it out.
Some do so with more bumps and bruises. My fervent prayer for her is that none of those bruises leave permanent marks. So, as my mini-me gets ready to go, I hope she’ll remember what I’ve learned thus far…
• Keep moving. Go, go, go. Keep one foot in front of the other even if you don’t know where you’re going. Get out of bed each morning, wash your face, and for goodness sake do your hair! Go to work, go to class, just go and then get up the next day and go again and then again and again. In life, one thing always leads to another. And those that wait, end up waiting a lifetime.
• Don’t be a snot. It always amazes me how people think they can be ugly and then get their way. It might work for a minute, but not for much longer than that. And it makes you feel bad anyway. You will find the kinder you are, the better you’ll feel. People may accuse you of being too nice, but those are people who don’t know the peace it brings to not constantly be at war.
• Don’t take it. So being kind doesn’t mean being a pushover. Sadly, some people are just bad people. They push and shove through life. These people will treat you poorly and when they do, you need to call them on it and then walk away. Because, if you take it, it will chip at your soul. Your soul is all you’ve got. Protect it at all costs.
• Don’t ever argue over money. Your grandfather’s side of the family taught me this. They didn’t have a lot, but they were generous with everything they did have and it’s come back to our family 1,000 fold. If a friend thinks you owe them $1, give them $2. Pick up the tab, help a friend out, be generous with what you have to everyone you meet. It’s the only way to be.
• Eat right. I know I tell you all the time, sugar is the devil, and you don’t believe me. But it is. Your same wise grandfather always told me you can have everything in moderation. But not sugar. He was wrong about sugar.
• Have some quiet time. You are about to embark on a time in your life where you’ll have the least amount of quiet time. And that’s OK, because you’ll have the energy for it. But every so often, while your roommate is out, stay in. Especially if it’s a rainy night. Oh, those are the best! Get a book, get under the covers and just enjoy the quiet. And if you do this, be sure to eat some sugar. Cookies in bed don’t count.
• No one can make you happy. They can make life easier. They can make life more fun. But happiness is something only you can find. And the secret to finding it, only you can answer. I know, what a cop out answer right? But it’s the truth, because my happy is not your happy. My happy is sitting on the porch at 5:30 a.m. writing this column. Your dad’s happy is staying up late to read realclearpolitics.com. Find your own happy and don’t get in the way of someone else’s.
• Watch your words. Things that are said cannot be unsaid. You can say “I’m sorry,” but those ugly words will always be out there. So hold your tongue. I’ve learned this the hard way and 20 years later still regret things I’ve said. So if need be, bite your tongue until it bleeds. I promise, tomorrow you’ll be glad you did.
• Speak it and it will happen. This goes back to the power of words. I know it sounds trite. But I’m a true believer in speaking what you want. Put it out there. And then watch it happen. Say it out loud and be positive about it. Once you’ve put it out into the universe, the world has a funny way of hearing it and bringing it to your door.
• Always talk to strangers. Growing up, I’d cringe as I’d watch my parents talk to anyone, anywhere. And then I grew up and did the same. You’ve got a double dose of my side of the family, so you might as well realize that deep down, you will love this, too. This world is filled with billions of people. Don’t you want to know their story? Oh, the things you will learn. Stick your hand out, introduce yourself and then wait to hear who they are, where they’re from and how they got there.
• Home will always be here. Dad and I had many failings. We worked too much, bought takeout way too often and yelled more than was needed. But you see, as you were growing up, so were we. It’s just how this funny world works. And while we don’t have all the answers, by now, we do have a few. When life gets tough, come home. We can help you figure it out.
And then when we’re done figuring it out, it will be time for you to leave again. You’ll want to stay, but our job will be to make you go. Don’t worry, though. You are ready for this, and so are we.
Comments? Email Angel Kane at [email protected] Becky Andrews and Kane are the brains behind Telling Tales, a weekly column in The Democrat.