Hey, Dude! Advice for life from an old dad, No 1--Don't be a dick.
Hey, Dude! Since this is my first post to you directly, I should explain what I'm hoping to accomplish. As I start this blog, I'm struggling with honesty. How much do I divulge? Am I brave enough to make myself look bad even when it isn't because of a funny situation? And no matter how much I hide it, you'll see that it would be easy to let my flaws define me, so there's plenty of unflattering material. We'll see. I'm realizing this particular kind of honesty hasn't been a strong point of mine up until now, but it's probably the most important kind of honesty to have.
In this spirit of openness and honesty, I'll start small and admit that I worry about how long I'll be around to know you. My father only made it until my youngest sister was 16 before he died. He was 53; I'm already a bunch older than he was when he died and you aren't even born yet. I've got my work cut out for me. If I'm super fortunate, you'll be reading this by yourself while I'm still coherent enough to know it and talk to you about it. If this happens, remind me to be as grateful as I'm hopeful now.
As we'll discuss a lot, your brother and sister lived through a lot of parenting mistakes. I feel kind of fortunate to get another chance to practice with you. But also worried that I'll just make the same mistakes again. I'll do my best to prove that I deserved a second chance. Just today, I was thinking about parenting goals. Mine is simple: that you learn to love and listen to the still, small voice inside of you. Tall order. I still am not very good at it, so maybe we'll learn together. Maybe you'll teach me.
I want to make sure that I give you the opportunity to learn from advice that I've gathered in usually the most circuitous, difficult way that there is to learn things. That's my specialty. You'll make your own mistakes and ignore much of my advice, but at least think about it. Let it build up into a part of that voice that you listen to when you aren't sure what to do and need help.
There's a lot of 'instruction books' for life available. By the time we're done, I'll have borrowed liberally from a lot of different sources. You're the culmination of thousands upon thousands of years of people making mistakes and learning from them. Don't reinvent the wheel too often. You will anyway, but try to keep it to a minimum. When relevant, I'll let you know how I came to the particular piece of advice that I'm giving you so that you know.
So let's get started! I worried about making the first advice negative. But, I'd be disingenuine if I pretended that I'm a person who worries about being positive. At some point, we'll probably talk about the positive corollary to this, but saying 'be nice' or 'be a good person' or 'follow the golden rule' aren't very helpful to me. It's easier to look at it this way:
Don't be a dick!
A couple of days ago, Alexa and I went to Caribou Coffee for a treat. While we waited, Alexa read the chalkboard where the theme was 'Have Any Good Advice?' Alexa knew instantly what the best advice should be and she went ahead and wrote, in her best chalk penmanship, 'Don't be a dick!' She explained, 'it's obvious. If there is nothing else that you can do, at least don't be a dick. No one needs someone acting like a dick, so just don't do it.' I've been proud of Alexa many times in her short life and this definitely qualifies as one of my favs. She's been listening! Your sister is a great one; you're lucky to have her.
At that moment--no storytelling device--I knew that we needed to collect the best wisdom in the universe for you. I think that Alexa is right. If you can only do one thing, then put all of your energy into not being a dick. The best part is, it's usually easy to tell when you're being a dick. Even when someone else is being a dick, resist! Being a dick never helps anyone or anything. Extra bonus--your brother and sister have volunteered to make sure you know when you cross the line!
I love you.
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