Tonight I started to pack up Sam for his 6 months on the road. I can’t believe I’m packing up my 11 year old to leave home for so long. Also, I can’t believe that he does not seem to have one pair of matching socks in his drawer. I’m not old enough to have one leaving the nest. Or maybe I am. There are lots of people my age who have kids going off to college.
So then I started to wonder what I would tell him about how to survive on his own. I turned 40 in January which makes me a wise old soul, so I thought I’d tell him what I’ve learned so far.
You should always be nice to everyone. You never know when you are going to bump into someone again later on in life and you always want people to remember you as a nice guy.
You should always take chances. Life can be way too short and you never know when you are going to get another opportunity to do something special.
There are certain clothes that do not look good on short people. This does not apply to Sam, but this is something I myself have learned.
When picking your friends, only pick people who make you feel good about yourself. That is the #1 thing I have learned as I have gotten older. You want to have friends who always have your back, who always cheer you on, who never make you feel bad about who you are. And you are never too old to make new friends (thanks ladies for my girls night tonight. I needed it and you were right).
Don’t be afraid to fight for what you believe in. As I’ve gotten older, I can tell if I want someone in my life by the way they stand up for themselves, or their children, or an issue they feel strongly about.
Don’t be afraid to ask for directions when you are lost. No one will think less of you as a man. Also, your wife is always right about everything. (OK, this is actually for your Dad)
Change happens all the time and I hope you are better at adjusting to it than I am. I refused to change over from records to CDs for years; refused to turn in my walk man for an IPod, refused to give up taking pictures with my favorite disposable cameras in favor of the digital cameras (I even kept my Polaroid for way too long); didn’t understand why we needed computers when my awesome typewriter with the screen worked just fine. I still can’t believe we don’t live in a world where kids can’t just run around the neighborhood together after school and parents can just shout “come in for dinner!” and no one worries about anything. I also can’t believe you and your siblings are growing up so fast.
There will always be someone better looking than you or wealthier than you, but that doesn’t mean they are happier.
Make sure you laugh every day, at least once. It’s good for the soul. If you can’t find anything to laugh at, call me and I’ll tell you the story about how I got a speeding ticket dressed as an Indian in front of your school on Colonial Day.
Take care of yourself. You only have one body and everything you do can have consequences. However, enjoy yourself as much as you can now. I have learned that when you turn 40, you cannot eat at Dairy Queen and then exercise it away. That peanut buster parfait stays with you for years.
Wear a jacket. My mom used to secretly follow me and my friends when we went out to lunch during high school and make sure I was dressed warm enough. I totally get it now.
And most of all remember to take pictures of everything. As we get older, our memories fade, and finding that picture of you and your family or you and your friends when you turn 40 will be more precious than you can ever know. Even though you see yourself wearing say, the Rachel from Friends hairdo with curly hair (horrible), or wearing florescent paisley shirts with a belt, or the highest waisted shorts ever created, it is still fun to look back and remember.
Have fun and be safe and don’t forget, you have a little brother and sister who look up to you. Everything you do and say matters. We all love you. Go for it.