Thursday, July 3, 2014

Words of Wisdom for My 10-Year-Old

Ten! Ten years old today. How did that happen so fast? A decade has gone by already? Ten years ago today, after an unsuccessful labor and a truly terrifying emergency C-Section ("Don't cut yet! I can still feel my feet, I can still feel my feet!!!"), our skinny little 6 pound 5 ounce, 27" long son made us a family of 3. Now, he's in double digits. Wow! And, what an amazing person he is becoming. A natural scientist and mathematician, with a brain that is constantly analyzing, theorizing, and operating much, much faster than my own, or my husband's, for that matter. A skinny, wiry little body that can run amazingly fast, but isn't too coordinated on any sports field. (He gets that from me, I'm afraid.) Constantly distracted, incredibly messy, and a total packrat, whose room always looks like a tornado blew threw it, even AFTER he's cleaned it up. Sigh. A cartoonist and passionate writer, with multiple fantasy/science fiction/spy sagas already under his belt, who would probably rather read a book than do anything else in life except eat chocolate. A Calvin and Hobbes fan and Trekkie, currently obsessed with The Next Generation, who spends a great deal of time drawing complex, detailed pictures of The U.S.S. Enterprise, as well as his own starship designs. A sensitive boy, who worries too much about what others think of him, and who shies away from expressing difficult emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, and fear, unless it's to me, when we're all alone, usually late at night. Never the most touchy-feely kid, yet in the early morning hours, when he's just awoken, loves "snuggles" and tells me that I'm the best Mom in the world. He is, quite simply, wonderful. I feel so fortunate to be his Mom.

Recently, at a celebration for our outgoing 8th grade class, my principal asked me to speak to the students and to offer them advice. I realized that the advice I gave to my 8th graders is no different than the advice I offer to my boys, so I am including it here, as I think about helping Spencer navigate through his childhood and into adulthood. 

For what it's worth...

2014 8th Grade Celebration Speech

Our Principal, my boss, asked me to come on at the end and to say something “inspirational.” That’s a little hard for me, because my advice has always been less on the inspirational side and more on the practical side.

I say things like: 
  • “You only control yourself, so quit worrying so much about what everybody else is doing or thinking” 
  • “If you want more people to like you, quit being such a jerk.”
  • “When the seagull of life poops on your head, brush it off, and keep going.” 
  • “Don’t date in middle school. “
Things like that….

So, I thought about a few things I’d like to say to you as you head out of middle school, and then I got online and looked up the words of people who are far more inspirational than I am to help me say it.

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Work hard: 
  • “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Vidal Sassoon
  • “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers
  • “If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘til you get a boss.”  Bill Gates
When you make a mistake, don’t give up. Learn from it and keep going
  • “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.”  Al Bernstein
  • “Mistakes are painful when they happen. But years later, a series of mistakes is called experience, and that’s what leads to success.”  Anurag Prakash Ray
  • “You’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” Aaron Sorkin
Choose your friends wisely -- they can either lift you up or drag you down:
  • “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” Dave Barry
  • “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”  Oprah Winfrey
Attitude is everything. Be appreciative, optimistic, open-minded, and believe in yourself:
  • “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best things…they simply appreciate the things they have.”  Warren Buffett
  • Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford
  • “Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.” Thomas Dewar
  • “It’s all about the ‘tude, dude.”  Spencer Bacon
  • Put away the phone or the ipod or the laptop, take a look around you, and really appreciate the moment. 
  • Make eye contact and smile at someone, instead of typing an emoticon. 
  • Really experience the world around you, instead of just taking a selfie and posting it online.
  • You’ll be happier for it. 

And, in the immortal, and very inspirational, words of Dr. Seuss:  “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  Good luck!

So, to my 10-year-old boy, I offer the same words. And, my unconditional love! Forever. Happy Birthday, peanut! Thanks for everything you bring to my life. It is infinitely richer, because you're in it.


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