Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pssst, kid, over here (an open letter to little people)

I was reading one of those stories in the news the other day that I would have glossed over in the past but now that I'm a parent take on a whole new meaning. You know the ones I'm talking about. A man or woman is killed in some freak accident and as you skim the story you find out he/she had young children at home. Shudder the thought.

It got me to think what would happen if I were to meet with unfortunate design and merge with eternity while my kids were still at a tender age. If one were to ask them years down the road what wisdom they had learned at my knee that helped shepherd them into adulthood, they probably would have to give it a hard think and then come up with such as this: “clean your nails, good god”, “lean over your plate so you don't get crumbs in your lap” and “brush now or else.”

It occurred to me that I almost never tell them anything of consequence. Not that kids learn by being told, of course. But in case they ever learn by reading, I thought I'd collect my collective wisdom and put it in once place so that I would have it all ready in the event of my untimely demise or (more likely) untimely institutionalization or (most likely) our children's ability to swiftly disable the parental controls on the computer and discover my blog. Ergo,

An Open Letter to Little People (mine, specifically)

From where you sit now life may seem fairly simple and straightforward and in many respects it is. But as you lean towards adulthood you'll no doubt try to complicate it, because that's what we all do.

For instance, as you grow up you will have many friends who will all have different ideas of what is required to be adored by others. Because you are human, you will for a time play the game of trying to morph yourself into these different ideals. It is my hope that sooner, rather than later, you will learn that the quality which others most respect and find attractive is authenticity, the irony being that once you discover this you will no longer care much what others think.

Many things will seem wildly important to you at different times in your life. But here's something that really is. Find the one thing in life that makes your heart sing and do it and never stop doing it, even if it makes your father and me weep into our pillows at night. We'll get over it.

A well-paying job is lovely. A home is lovely. But before you chase that kind of stability, get out and see the world. One cannot purchase the perspective of life as viewed from beneath a worn rucksack on a lost bit of track somewhere in the Peruvian Andes.

If you're unsure whether or not you should say it, and...
  • you're really angry
  • in a business meeting
  • have had a few too many
  • are talking to an attractive man/woman who's not your significant other
  • are in a chat room
  • are being evaluated for a raise
  • are about to hit reply to all
you probably shouldn't.

  
If you're unsure whether or not you should say it, and...
  • you're feeling hurt
  • are feeling centered
  • are in therapy
  • are only at the $5,000 level on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
  • are hooked up to a lie detector test
  • the man/woman of your dreams is about to walk out the door
you probably should.

Things that are a bad idea:
  •  Credit cards for college students
  •  Credit cards in general (unless you pay them off every month)
  •  Thinking, eh, you're okay to drive
  •  Unprotected sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend because my god you love him/her so much and besides, you know it's a safe time of the month
  •  Unprotected sex in general
  •  Drugs, legal or otherwise, prescription or street, your parents' or yours or anyone else's
  •  Owning a firearm (unless you live in the Yukon and need to take down a caribou for your dinner, what the hell are you thinking?)
  •  Tattoos that spell things out
  •  Martyrdom
  •  Whining
  •  Playing the victim
  •  You get the picture

 Things that are a good idea:
  • A degree in the liberal arts (if you really want to go into business get an MBA, but for undergrad go liberal arts; you'll be a better person for it and you will absolutely get a job)
  • Condoms (yes, harp harp)
  • Being the first to apologize -- contrary to popular belief, it takes a bigger person
  • Laughing at yourself
  • Turning off the TV and reading. Lots.
  • Speaking your truth
  • Over and over and over, even when it hurts
  • Accountability
  • Integrity
  • Love over gold
  • Anna, take your calcium

And always, always, you are loved.

That should do for now. 

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37 comments:

  1. Can I forward this to my kid...the 18 year old who just texted me tonight she is getting married in a week. I may not survive the night.

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  2. Beautifully done, Kristin. Just beautiful.xoxoxo

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  3. Beautiful.
    I was thinking of writing a similar letter to my younger half-sister who's 11. I'm her godmother.

    She's growing so fast and I'm so busy with three kids of my own that the opportunity to say this stuff never comes. You remind me that I have to start this letter that's in my head.

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  4. HIeeeeee,

    Just came here through Brenda's Flog You Friday and i am glad i opened your link.... This is an awesome blossom post and i lUUUUURved it....

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  5. i love this Kristin. Love. I tweeted it.

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  6. Awesome. Made me think, I too keep telling my son to mind his manners, to look up when he speaks and to not chew with his mouth full... time for thoughtful conversations.

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  7. Beautiful, poignant and significant post. I'm going to think up some "important" things to tell my kids inbetween all of the logistical crap that fills our days.

    xoxo

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  8. Beautiful post. This would be great framed and and hung on a wall.
    Mom, Dad and family taught me so much, in little bitsy ways, when they weren't trying to.
    Adela
    PS, I found your post on Sharnigans. I'm sure I will be visiting you regularly.

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  9. Beautiful post!
    I could just put my signature on this and pass it on to my kids too.

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  10. You took the words right out of my mouth... but for my boys I'd also add a life lesson that I have learned the hard way: 'If you need help ask for it. And keep asking until you get the help you need. There is no weakness in having the strength to admit you need help; there is no shame in having the courage to admit you need help. So ask.'

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  11. I am SO posting this on my FB. If I can figure out how. lol

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  12. Great letter, and lucky kids. The bulleted lists are pure awesome and so, so thoughtful.

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  13. Well said. I am just entering the phase in my daughter's life where she stops listening. (she's 12) I am keeping this as a reminder that no matter how many times I may say it, she will listen at some point. By the way, gave you a blog award. See my blog for details!

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  14. I'm here via Brenda's Friday BlogFlog. Glad I found your site. As others before me have said already: I love your lists. Simple. Perfect. Beautiful.

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  15. KB - I'm sorry mate, but I couldn't read this - I couldn't get past the third para :-( I'm rubbish at this, it's the one thing in films that makes me cry (that and the bit at the end of Mary Poppins where they fly the kites). I can't face the thought of losing them, or them losing me before they are old enough to cope.

    My Wife's cousin died of CF last year leaving a son the same age as mine, it's just horrible. I'm planning on ignoring it, because I just can't face it!

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  16. Glen, I'm so sorry, ignore away, that just so sad.

    Everyone else, thanks for the comment love (and tweets and stumbles and FB posts). You are wonderful!

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  17. I must start with the fact that this is, of course, a very nice post, with many touching and true bits of wisdom.

    But...turning off the tv? Must be a typo, right?

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  18. Loved every bit of it, and I'm jealous of your ability to see the truth.

    My favorite bullet is:
    Over and over and over, even when it hurts (I'll let you guess what I was thinking when I read this)

    I'm FB'ing this!

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  19. This is fabulous! My best friend died almost a year ago at 29 years old. He left behind a 10 year old son for whom he tried to leave behind bits and pieces of advice. My absolute favorite was "When in doubt, call Aunt Jill."

    Just popping by for Flog Yo Blog Friday!

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  20. I love it! That had me in tears of laughter. Brilliant advice.

    BTW, Scarf- Woolen length of fabric, used to wrap around one's neck to prevent pneumonia and to look funky. Extreme caution must be exercised whilst in go-carts, on bicycles , near teeny tiny creepy ghosts or in the vicinity of drop-bears or feral koalas. Sometimes, just sometimes, it actually gets cold enough in Sydney to wear them. (Things You Should Already Know About Australia Already Unless You PhotoShopped In That Massive Bridge-Part Two) :p

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  21. When I grow up I want to be just like you. Lovely post. Just lovely.

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  22. Hi!
    Just stopping by to tell you there is an award for you at my blog.
    You deserve it!

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  23. Ahh, good to know I'm not the only one who did this! (BTW, I found you via FlogYoBlog and added you, hope you're okay with that.)

    Seriously, though. There are just some me-isms and nuggets that my proxies would never be able to get across to my children in the proper me-like manner, so there's a jump drive of video and a letter in a safety deposit box for them. :D

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  24. Where the hell did you come from and why haven't I found you? I'm entirely upset that you found me first. AMAZING! I'm never leaving. Sitting up late and reading archives. Adding to blogroll. Following. Etc. Good god. I've found my new best friend.

    Suzy

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  25. Thanks Suzy! I appreciate the compliment. You're a hell of a writer. Glad to have met you. :-)

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  26. I know, I know, again with the scarves. It's a serious problem, ok, don't be a hater.

    Anyone can vote in the Blog This challenge, Aussie accent not required. But it is required to enter. Don't worry, I'll announce when the voting starts. I'm thinking of offering bribery.

    We should totally be FB friends!! My email is idontthinkso@ihatespam.com. Joking. I'll find you. Or email you. Or something.

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  27. Stalking you now. Award for you on my blog.

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  28. I want to steal this for my own kids... do you think they'd mind?
    I think you should make this into a meme by the way - mummy bloggers will love the idea, I know I do! s

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  29. Lori - Thanks! I heart stalkers.

    Marylin - I think you'll have to explain the meme thing to me (I'm slow that way, just ask Lori, she's still trying to define scarf for me).

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  30. You really are brilliant. I love this post and your children are lucky to have you for a mummy.

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  31. I have printed this out and will give a copy to my son the moment it is ok to start talking to him about condoms. He is six now, so what, like next year...? :)
    GREAT POST!

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  32. Beautiful!!! I too am printing this out. You should print it out too! And hang it in their room. Or tatoo it on their bodies!:)

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  33. thanks for the link up - love the list - oh my! I so love the bad idea list - could have used that list myself when i was growing up!!!!

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  34. Great post and even better list.

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  35. I love it, great list and post

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