Enough time has passed in my life where I can look back and (mostly) understand the things my parents taught me, or at least tried to teach me, or maybe forgot to teach me as I was growing up. I wish now that I had paid attention and listened to the importance of knowing these things and how they will ultimately shape the person that I have become, or have yet to become. I plan and hope that I will be able to teach these things to my son, so he truly understands the importance of each lesson as he begins his life. Here’s my list:
1. Don’t forget to be a kid. – Or better yet, don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Life moves way too fast. Kids are always stuck in a push-pull situation where parents and teachers are telling them to be responsible, grow up, act more like an adult, and yet, at the same time they are pushed back. Everyone telling them they can’t do this or that because they are just a kid. Or maybe because they aren’t old enough, or aren’t mature enough to understand. Try and recall a time when you can remember how this made you feel when someone treated you that way. I hope to remind not only my son, but more importantly myself that being young is not some kind of “problem” but a privilege. So as parents we have to find ways to allow our kids to do stuff – even when they are very young or inexperienced.
2. You can learn something from anything – I think this is something I’ve taught myself throughout the years. These days the secret to life seems to be “never stop learning”. Never stop seeking out knowledge. Never stop progressing. There is always something to learn from every experience, person, and situation that happens in your life. Learning happens all the time and everywhere not just at school or work. So I’m trying to expose my son to as many experiences and learning opportunities as possible.
3. There is a time for work, a time for play, and a maybe even a time for both – I’ve come to learn that sometimes work and play have no distinction. Especially in the work that I do, where I actually enjoy it most of the time. It’s sort of my own personal play time that I get paid for. I want to teach my son that work can also be play, and even some play can be work, instead of teaching him the traditional sense of work first, play later. Work and play should walk hand in hand, and not take rank over each other. Also I want to get away from making work sound difficult and unenjoyable – it doesn’t have to be.
4. Never let your school gets in the way of your education – This almost goes hand in hand with #2. Never stop learning. Just because you’re not in school, doesn’t mean you can’t further your education. I want my son to always be seeking knowledge, regardless of how the school system should teach him to learn. In other words, I want his education to be far greater, and reach way further than what the school curriculum does.
5. Don’t be so serious – This one is pretty obvious. Just relax. Everyone takes life, work, and school so seriously that they often forget to stop for a moment and just “be”. They forget to appreciate the smaller details, the ones that make life worth living for.
6. Be a participant in your own life – In other words, be mindful of yourself. Be aware of everything you do or say. Nothing is as important as this very moment. I hope to teach my son that when you eat, eat. When you clean, clean. When you read, read. In other words “be present” and be “in the moment”. Usually most of us are always thinking of the future or some historic event. We are very rarely just focused on what is happening right now. As a result we miss most of our lives because we live in a nonexistent future or dwell on a historic event.
7. Deal with the consequences of your own actions – People love to point the finger, exaggerate, and even lie to make sure that they save face regardless of how it may affect someone else. I’d like to teach my son to “man up”, own up and deal with the consequences of his actions.
8. Life changes, with or without you – Planning rarely works the way it’s supposed to – in many cases life has a different agenda and we just have to deal with that. I want to teach my son how to accept change and progress with it. We spend so many years in school thinking that it’s going to prepare us for life in the ‘real world’, only coming to realize that we have no idea what we’re doing. Learning to adapt and accept change, whatever that change may be, seems to be the best way to get by.
9. Your financial status means very little in the grand scheme of things – ‘He who dies with the most toys, still dies.’ I heard this phrase at church at a young age, and it has stuck with me ever since (Ha, I did learn something at church!). Because the way our society glamorizes the rich and famous, we all grow up to believe that to be truly happy, one must have the most money, and the biggest and best of things. This of course, is untrue … and we all keep saying that it is untrue but we all just keep chasing the dollar (beats me). I’d like to teach my son to chase his happiness rather than the dollar.
10. Do what you love – This is something that seems to be long forgotten once you start getting older. When you were a kid, you could tell your parents you wanted to be an astronaut and they would say, “That’s wonderful sweetheart! Be an astronaut!”. So what happened to our curiosity? Our creativity? It all seems to dwindle away the more we age, and no one does anything to make it stop. By the time it’s all over we look back and realize we wasted so much time working for someone else, hating our jobs, because we never pursued what we truly loved to do, whatever that may be.