You’re 6 years old now. I think it’s time you learn the proper way to be a man. I’m a woman, not a man, but I feel I’m equipped to teach you anyway, because they’re pretty much the same.
You’ll already know some of these things, because we’ve been talking about them since forever, so you can skip those parts. Just kidding. Read every word. I’m your mom. My words matter.
1. Take your shoes off. Go on barefooted adventures. Get filthy. Just be courteous and wash your hands before you touch anyone else with them. Climb trees. You’ll fall sometimes. Climb them anyway. We have plenty of Bandaids.
2. Be a hero by showing kindness to all critters, at all times. It’s the right thing to do. All the critters won’t always be nice to you, but you show them kindness anyway. Remember that often people hurt others if they themselves have been hurt, so, show kindness and see what happens.
3. Be gentle. Be loving. Be honest. Be brave. All those things make you “honorable.” If you’re honorable, you are doing right for yourself and the world.
4. Make the next right choice. One at a time. That’s all you can do.
5. Be weird. The secret is, we’re all weird in our heads. Try not to let other people make you feel bad for your weirdness, or the ways that you are “different.” They’re just afraid that their own weirdness will be spotted. Help them celebrate their weirdness and be bold and celebrate yours.
6. The most important things you do in your life are going to take FOREVER to accomplish, and will be a TON of work. You’ll probably be afraid and embarrassed and annoyed in the process. Possibly hungry and tired and worn out, too. There’s no way to cheat the system, you just have to put in the time and work and hurt and sacrifice. It’s a drag. Do it anyway.
7. You’re going to keep learning until you’re an extremely old man. Be on the lookout for new experiences and new information. Get used to not knowing everything. Sometimes our brains tell us we are important and complete and we resent finding out there are things we don’t know. The wisest among us turn that part of themselves off and just say, “tell me more.” There is so much to learn. Do it.
8. Read. People have been putting all kinds of ideas and information and stories in books since the beginning of people. You can always go on an adventure and grow yourself, if you have a book.
9. Take care of your teeth. And your body. Be wise and reasonable about your hygiene and fitness. You want to be able to run and climb trees into old age. But keep perspective. Your body is the way you get around the world, but your heart for love and your brain for learning and your mouth for telling jokes and stories are way more important than any other part of your body.
10. Be mindful of who is telling you who you are and what they are trying to sell you. Remember how you’re supposed to be kind and weird and honest and brave? Those are hard things to be, so people will try to sell you other things that seem easier, more attainable. They’ll try to tell you to be more fun, more relaxed, more muscular, thin, attractive, more or less hairy, whatever else is “new” and “in style.” You should stand back and assess them before you decide if you want to take them on as your goals for you.
11. There are going to be hard days. Take care of your heart. When it gets really hard to be you, and you’re feeling doubtful and scared and uncertain and alone, which will happen sometimes, you might find recommendations to step away from yourself and your goals, using things to dull the hard feelings. It’s not going to work. Not for long. You have to come back to being you eventually. You just have to do the hard things. We’ll help you. Find others who will also help you take good care of your heart.
12. You get to make the rules for you. We’ll help you, because we love you and its happily our job as your parents, but you decide who you are and where you’re going. Just do it one day at a time, one decision at a time. You can do it.
13. I think, if you follow these rules, you’ll be OK in friendship, romance, school, work, art, sports, tree climbing, and travel. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things. You can remind me when you come across them. Oh, keep eating your boogers. Studies have shown it’s good for your immune system. You’re going to have one hell of an immune system.
I love you,