This is a little list of things I want my kids to know. Things I wish I had known earlier in life. I probably heard these growing up, but in the tradition of kids everywhere, I probably rolled my eyes and carried on.
1) No one will ever be good enough for you. You are our favorite people. When you leave our nest some day, you will hopefully choose a mate and create your own family. I'm telling you right now, we will think you could do better. No offense to your future spouses, but you are awesome and I can't imagine anyone ever deserving you. I promise to treat them like family, though. Not only will they be lucky to get to be with you, they will have the best mother-in-law EVER!
2) You will never regret just being yourself. Friends and suitors will come and go. Pretending to like a band, tv show, genre of music, etc... just to seem cool or to have something in common with another person will not work. You are unique and fun. If the people you are hanging out with think you are boring and like dumb things, find NEW people to hang out with. As long as you are respectful of other people's choices, you deserve the same respect. You and your friends don't have to love the same things, but you should at least tolerate one other. Which leads me to....
3) If the person you are with makes you feel bad about yourself, hurts you or makes you feel afraid, get out NOW. Life is too short to spend it with someone who doesn't respect you. If anyone ever threatens to hurt you or hit you, please get away from them. Come home. You will always be welcome. And I will never be too old to kick an ass if I need to.
4) Some day in the near future, you will look back on your school days and none of it will matter. The times you were so embarrassed you thought you would die, the people who treated you less than awesomely, the boring stuff you had to learn, the crushes you had, the hurt feelings...all of it. You will be busy leading a life full of successes and kids and jobs. You will have good friends and surround yourselves with fun things and stay away from bullies. I'm not promising you a perfect future with no pain or embarrassment, but you will be able to deal with it because you survived high school. You will also come to realize that all those other kids at school, the ones you envy or don't like or seem to have it made? They feel the exact same way you feel about school.
5) Always be able to laugh at yourself. Life can be rough. It will be even rougher if you take yourself too seriously. If you don't have a sense of humor about yourself, you will be miserable. Being able to laugh at your mistakes will help you cope with the inevitable setbacks in life as well as make you a much more likable person. Nobody likes being around a grump who blames everyone else for their bad choices and crappy life. A "why me?" attitude is like poison and terrible to be around.
6) Contrary to the popular phrase from an overrated, poorly acted melodramatic 70's movie, love means saying your sorry and saying it often. Pride is a relationship killer. You are going to make mistakes. You will let someone down, hurt someone's feelings and forget to do something for someone. Don't be too proud to say "I'm so sorry." or "Please forgive me.". Even the hardest of hearts can be softened by someone who takes responsibility for their actions. By that same token, extending grace to someone who has wronged you and accepting an apology that has been offered will make you an awesome person. It does not mean you are stupid or weak. It means you have good character and a loving heart.
7) Faith in God is the best foundation on which to build your life. Remember what you have learned at church, at home and in religion classes. Cling tight to the Word. Live your life in such a way that it is obvious you live by faith without ever having to say it.
8) Respect your body. It's the only one you get.
9) Reach out to your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. It sometimes stinks that we live so far away from family. Their lives go on while we are out here in Tulsa. Our lives go on without them. It is important to maintain a relationship with them. Your grandparents have been around the block a few times. Anything you are feeling, anything you are doing, they have felt and done. They know what life was like before computers, dishwashers, cell phones and indoor plumbing. Seriously! They had to go to an outhouse to go to the bathroom! They have so much knowledge and you could really learn a lot from them. Ask them what it was like to grow up in the days before television and video games were the center of the universe.
10) Face your fears. Go on the scary roller coaster, walk into a club meeting alone, sing out loud at church, play your guitar in the talent show, run for school office, try a strange food or drink, take that 3 point shot, try out for the school play. You will never regret putting yourself out there and stepping outside of your comfort zone. You will regret not trying, though. If you want to do it, but are afraid...DO IT ANYWAY!
11) Not everyone is going to like you...and that is okay. This is a hard one and I still struggle with it. It gets easier as you get older, but there will be people who, for whatever reason, just don't like you. Don't knock yourself out trying to change their mind. Just be yourself and enjoy the friends who DO like you.