Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 lessons I want to teach my daughter (but she'll probably have to learn herself...)

There's a lot of things I have learned in all the years I have roamed this earth, "If I knew then what I know now" kind of stuff. I would like to teach my daughter these things some day to save her some heartbreak. But she probably won't listen, and she will make the same mistakes and learn these sometimes painful lessons on her own. Here are the Top 10 things I want to tell her: 
  1. Be wary of big, romantic gestures. This is not universally true, but big, romantic gestures are often diversion techniques for assholery. An occasional hot air balloon ride or surprise trip is fine, even sweet, but if it's overwhelming your alarm bells should go off. If you spend your whole life waiting for Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet with these big gestures, you might be waiting a really long time. 95% of the leisure moments in your adult life will be spent sitting on the couch. Make sure the person you're sitting there with is one you like a whole lot.
  2. Don't go out of your way to date musicians. Not all of them are dirtbags, but so many are that if you spend a significant amount of time as a groupie, you'll be so bitter and jaded by the time you find one that isn't a dirtbag that you'll probably mess it up anyway. The same applies to actors, professional athletes and members of any other group or profession that grow accustomed to having their egos fed on a near-constant basis.
  3. The world is a big place. See as much of it as you can. We've been dragging you to hither and yon since before you could walk. Yes, this subjects you to the misery that is the airport, but it has also exposed you to different cultures, ideals, people who think differently than you do. I do hope you've been paying attention, and that you've learned a thing or two along the way. I also hope you'll keep it up at every available opportunity. There is no place in the world I regret traveling to, the only regrets I have are the times I didn't go when I had the chance.
  4. You don't have all the time in the world. Fertility drops off much earlier than you think, and you have less time than you imagine if you want to do the whole "married with children" thing. It's OK if you don't want to, it's your life to live. But be really, really honest with yourself and don't shrug it off thinking there's always going to be a later, because there might not be. If you're thinking you need to own a house or have $X in the bank or reach X level in your career before you get started, know that people have committed far worse crimes than not being "established" when they brought their baby home.
  5. It doesn't matter what high school you go to. In your last year of grade school, you will agonize over what high school to go to next year. Misguided people will tell you it is the most important decision you will ever make, and it will determine the course of the rest of your life! It won't. For that matter, it doesn't really matter what university you go to either, as long as it's not one only known for its excellent underwater basketweaving program. Go where it will make you happy to be. If you realize once you're there that you're not happy, go somewhere else. Take an extra year. Hell, take two. It's more important to find what you love than it is to graduate at the same time as your friends.
  6. The teen years are NOT the best years of your life. If I may be frank, the teen years suck big, giant, hairy donkey balls. In my adult life, I work with people who (ostensibly) went to high school. I don't know what clique they belonged to while they were there. It's six years filled with hormones, acne and angst. Just survive it and I'll do whatever I can to help. I promise you it gets SO MUCH BETTER.
  7. I love you with my whole heart. Even when you're being a little shit. There will be times when I will be mad at you. I will say you should know better, and you should. But even when you're being truly miserable, know that I love you 100% of the time. Even when I'm having a hard time keeping it together.
  8. It's not your job to make anyone else happy. Don't pack your bags for guilt trips. Don't be cruel and don't deliberately hurt people, emotionally or physically, but don't give up big pieces of yourself to please others. The person you need to live with is YOU, and if that gets lost in the shuffle you'll never be able to please anyone, least of all yourself.
  9. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. Some day you might accidentally find yourself dating an asshole, or have a friend (or a relative) who doesn't treat you well. People will only treat you poorly or make you feel bad about who you are if you let them. Keep the company of people who make you feel good, the ones you instinctively seek out when the chips are down. Jettison those who bring you down like the dead weight that they are.
  10. You are not invincible. Take care of yourself. If your gut is telling you something is a bad idea, listen to it. If you think it's unsafe, it probably is. Your friends will do stupid things and you don't have to follow them, no matter what they say. No matter where you are or what you're doing, if you decide it's the wrong place to be, call me and I will get you home from anywhere. I promise I won't be mad, or at the very least I'll do my best to stifle my anger until a more appropriate time. Just come back to me in one piece.
I'm sure there are many more lessons that I'll watch her learn the hard way, and my heart will break along with hers as she learns them. What lessons do you wish you could teach the kids in your life to spare them a little pain?  

This post is written as part of GBE2 - Week #44 word prompt: Make a List and Title It. For more info about GBE,  click here.  


Rebecca said...

I love this, particularly the last two!

Also, we don't get to pick our high schools here (in NC), so we only agonize (or don't) about college!

Becoming Supermommy said...

This is the list I made for my own daughters:

I've been cultivating it since I was a little girl. :)

Lance said...


I have 3 daughters, aged 7, 8, and 16. I hope I can convince my teenager to read this. She probably won't but I can hope.

The only thing I would add is, "most things in life taht are hard, are worth trying."

My teenager is afraid of mean cheerleading coaches, risky classes, and things that are difficult. She's way too safe sometimes. She even listens to crappy safe music.

Kyla @ Mommys Weird said...

What a great post!
I love #2 and #3 and #9.

I think you must be a fabulous Momma.

Unknown said...

I have two daughters. They are teenagers, and I think every one of these things I have said, do say, or will now include in my sayings!

Being a teenager SUCKS!

Anonymous said...

Very nicely said! My daughter is not a teenager yet, but the list still applies...often!

wendy @ bellanoise said...

my favorites? easily number five (we're getting our fifth grader ready for middle school and there's been angst; thank you, ms. julia, for putting things in perspective) and number eight (it's crazy how many needy, emotionally manipulative kindergarteners there are in the world; we're already working on this lesson with our 6-year-old).
it's especially nice, too, because of how forward-looking this list is. you have a wonderful road ahead with your little girl, ms. julia : )

Unknown said...

This is a wonderful list packed with valuable knowledge!! Your daughter is lucky to have you to give her the education she needs.


Claudia Moser said...

No 7 and 10 made me smile, this is what my mom would tell me as well :)

Jo said...

I'm a big fan of #8...conquer that and the rest of your life will work!
Excellent idea, writing out a list or more lists as time passes and one day, hand them to her.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list! My bet is she will always know #7 and that it will carry her through a lot of the stuff she has to figure out on her own.

Emme Rogers said...

Fabulous advice! I actually had a musician give me the musician advice the other day.

Beverly Diehl said...

Can I go back in time and teach these lessons to myself?

All of this made my laugh and nod my head, especially #2 and #6. And #8.

Oh hell, the whole damn list. Bravo!

SueMo said...

I found this on the 10 to 20 Parenting site. What a great list. I am sure that my mom would have created something similar. I know I heard most of these points in her voice over the years. Now in my 40s, I know that each one is true and I am still working on #8 and #9. :)