You are much too grown up for your own age.
Here I am at fifty-two, seeking ways to make my work the same as play and to make every day a holiday. My knees hurt, my baby fat simply won’t budge no matter how many laps I swim, and all the peroxide in the county won’t cover the silver at my temples. I blame it on my genes.
I suspect you will too, sometime in the next forty years.
Last week you graduated from high school. You already have a good peek into your future: first paycheck, first car, first love, first time living away from home. Not all firsts are so exciting and happy. You’ll have your first tax return, first flat tire, first heartbreak. We won’t talk about last week’s spider incident, but that should teach you to keep the apartment clean, or else you’ll have another not-so-nice first.
I know… I’m raining on my own holiday.
But I can’t stop the rain, and I can’t stop you from living your life and growing away from me.
I have more life lessons for you, like don’t overload a washing machine or use dish soap in the dishwasher, and do always wear clean underwear. Stand up for yourself and be loyal to your friends but don’t be a doormat. Study hard and get your sleep during the week. Party on the weekends — but be smart and keep it legal.
It all boils down to those four words I say to you and your brother every so often:
Don’t do anything stupid.
We’ll be four hours apart, but for me it may as well be four lifetimes. I know you’re not one to boomerang. Next summer if I’m lucky you’ll come home for a few weeks’ summer break, and maybe we’ll be us again — but you’ll be visiting, careful to not make promises you won’t be able to keep about visits and holidays and calling more often. (Okay-Okay! I’ll figure out Skype!)
Somehow I knew the first time I held you against my shoulder and you held your head up by yourself that you were independent and I wouldn’t get to hold onto you for long. Less than an hour after you were born, and I could tell you were already an old soul. Stubborn. Able to stand alone and apart from your peers. Your own person.
And oh how you prove it — you with your bowtie and suspenders style. You’ve started a fashion trend among the freshmen, breaking out of the saggy pants crowd.
More advice you don’t want: never assume. Always be honest and grow a thick skin. Speak up and keep your head down and work hard. Have the integrity your Dad and I have worked hard to instill in you. Don’t forget that there are cameras everywhere, so again—
Don’t do anything stupid.
You’ll do well if you remember everything we’ve taught you. You’ll do fine if you forget. By now you’ve figured out that your parents are not superheroes; just ordinary people who try always to do our best. Now it’s your turn.
Do YOUR best.
I have faith in you.