Since becoming a mummy last March, I’ve thought long and hard about the things that I want to teach my Little J, and the wisdom that I want to impart that will (hopefully) go some way to ensuring that he grows up to be a happy, confident and kind person.
It’s quite daunting being a parent. You remember what it was like to be a small child when you hung onto every word that your parents said (before getting older and realising that your mum and dad are only human and were just winging it like the rest of us!). Your parents are the first people that help you to create your mental “maps” of the world, some of which you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. Although, let’s not forget, we are all still learning, every day.
Even now at 36, I can still remember some of the pearls of wisdom that my parents and grandparents gave me and many of them have, I think, shaped me as a human. I definitely think it’s worth considering carefully the knowledge, ideas and values that you want to pass on to your babies.
With this in mind, here are my top five:
1. Good manners.
It goes without saying really, but nice manners and being polite and courteous are worth their weight in gold. Having worked in restaurants and bars as a teenager and young adult, it’s staggering how many adults can’t be bothered saying please or thank you, and find general politeness beyond them.
My favourite saying is “Be excellent to each other” (thanks to Bill and Ted) and if you think about it, if everyone embraced this simple philosophy the world would be a very beautiful place indeed. This starts with being polite and kind to fellow humans on a day-to-day basis.
2. Do something you LOVE for a job
This is so important when you consider that you’ll be getting up
early in the morning quite literally thousands of times to go to work. Of course jobs are a means to an end for most, and their main function is to make you some moolah so you can do things you enjoy with your favourites, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love what you do for a living.
I used to get the train to work and it’s depressing seeing the same glum faces every morning, clinging onto their flasks and staring mournfully out of the rain-splattered windows. I’ve always envied those folk who enthuse about their jobs and bounce out of bed merrily of a morning, skipping along to jobs and careers that fill them with vigour and vim.
Because of this, I’ll always encourage J to make a career out of something that he loves and has passion for if possible. The main thing is that he’s happy though. If he’s happy working as a mechanic, a quantum physicist or a traffic warden, then that’s good enough for me.
3. The world is a big place. Go and see it.
It fills me with fear to imagine him going to nursery at the moment, let along boarding a place to Fiji, but despite my trepidation I’ll definitely be encouraging my Little J to see as much of the world as he can.
Although there are hundreds upon thousands of places I’ve never been and would like to go, I’m proud of the travelling I have done and – despite the money I’ve spent over the years – I have loved every second of my adventures.
I remember an advert some time ago that said that your eyes capture 100 million images in a lifetime. I suppose I wanted mine to have lots of variety. And travelling is the best education ever – history, cultural studies, languages and geography all at once. So if J wants to do a gap year or trek to Machu Picchu, I’ll definitely be behind him. Maybe I’ll quite literally be behind him, on the next plane. Just to make sure he’s ok 😉
4. Don’t be THAT guy.
You know the guys I mean. The ones that drink full bottles of whisky for a dare, the ones that leap from hotel balconies into swimming pools, the ones that take drugs because everyone is doing it and it’s “cool”, the ones that have tattoos in Magaluf when they’re drunk, The idiots. We all know them.
I would like to think I’ll teach my boy to have his own mind, to stick to his guns and not feel the need to do stupid things to impress his mates. To be his own man.
You totally know THAT guy. Don’t you. We all do 🙂
5. Life is hard. But misery is (mostly) optional.
One of my favourite books is The Road Less Travelled, and one of the very first lines in the book, and the “greatest truth”, is that life is difficult. Once you’ve come to terms with that fact, it’s much easier to live it. And, as my title suggests, the misery part is – hopefully – optional.
I hope i can teach my son to tackle life’s issues and dilemmas with humour, with strength and with kindness, and I hope he knows I’ll be there with him – every step of the way.