My son Ty is starting high school tomorrow...yes...HIGH SCHOOL!! I mean...I'm not even sure how that happened (yes...I understand HOW it happened...I just can't believe it)! As I try to process the fact that my little man is taller than me (even in my heels), has broader shoulders than I do, has hair under his armpits (like a lot), and has a lower voice than most men I know...I might be making a little list of "Things that I would love for him to know and remember this year". I'm sure I will edit these before I actually tell them to him...but you all get this first draft because we all know that the non-edited lists are always better. So here it goes...
1 - Be yourself - Like for real. You have grown up so much these last few months...physically, socially, mentally, and maturity wise. Like...even if you weren't my son...I would be proud of you and wish you were my boy. You are funny...most of the time. I mean...when you get a good joke in...know when to stop. Leave on a high note and make 'em wanting more of that funny...but be you. Be artsy. Be a guitarist. Wear deep v-neck shirts because you have a great collarbone and they look great on you (they might not always...but in your case they probably will because I have prayed over you for years to get your daddy's metabolism...you're welcome). Be sensitive and caring...just not too sensitive...because I don't want you to get your feelings hurt easily. But be the caring sweet heart that you always are. Be you boo...beause YOU are amazing and sweet and kind and smart and funny and creative and handsome and thoughtful and talented and so much more!
2- Girls - this one might be long...sorry. Oh boo...girls can be crazy...and that's ok. You just need to learn the right kind of crazy for you (because truthfully...some girl is learning how to understand your kind of crazy...and one day all the crazy will fit together). Are you ready for this? Some of your mommas advice for you on girls...because you know...I am one.
- Listen to how they speak to their parents...especially their dad. Honestly...it will probably be the way they speak to you. Watch to see if they respect their parents. I know what you might be thinking...her parents might be TERRIBLE (I know that was sarcastic...but thruthfully... they actually might be...and even if they are...still watch how she handles herself with them). You would be amazed to know that this is the age when personalities and habits start to really form for your adult life (I can't believe I just said "adult life" when referring to you...hold please...I need to wipe tears). Watch how they treat their family and their closest friends. Watch how they treat waiters and waitresses. Watch how they treat the janitor. I'm promising you...these things matter. Nice matters. Kind matters. Being a sweetheart matters. ALL of these things will matter to you not only now...but later on in life!
- Emotions. Man...there are a lot of girl emotions at this age. Heck...YOU have a lot of boy emotions at this age. It's ok. BUT...emotions should never run your life. They are real. They make you feel (good and bad). They can help. They can also harm. Believe me when I say this boo...watch for a girl who is not always on an emotional roller coaster. I get a few "off" days, but if there is a daily different "issue", "problem", "reason to cry", "reason to be angry", or "reason to just act wrong based on emotions"...RUN. Like...don't physically run (because we both know that sports isn't really your thing)...but don't let yourself get too attached to that type of a person. I promise you...you will thank me for this advice. Please don't think that you can "fix" every girl that you meet. You don't need to feel that to have worth you have to fix a girl. There will be times in life when you will help, love, support, encourage, and comfort your significant other...but never put pressure on yourself to "fix" anyone...just don't do it!
- Beauty. I get it...beauty is important. Being attracted to someone is important. I still think your daddy is hot...and I love that! BUT...please don't let outer beauty be the only thing you look at. Find an intelligent girl. A girl that likes to read and likes to get good grades. A girl that can have an intellectual conversation with you about space, religion, science, or ANYTHING that interests either one of you. I know you...you are a talker...like a long talker. Look for a girl that likes to talk...but also likes to listen. Look for a girl whose smile and laughter makes your heart feel fuzzy. Look for a girl who isn't afraid to laugh or be silly. The BEST times you will have with a girl will involve laughter...like real belly laughs! That is where the magic happens.
- Girls that are friends. Girl friends are great. Truly. Have girls that are friends...that you are not interested in. They will help you understand females better and they will be great judges of character with other girls. You will also be able to help them with motives of other boys. True girl friends will be such a great investment for you. And...you might end up liking one or more of them from time to time...it's normal...don't stress.
- Talk to me about girls. Not all the time...or every day...but let's catch up once in a while about girls. You and I are pretty good at hard conversations. I love that about us! Let's keep it up. I promise that I will do my best to not butt in when you don't want me to. I also promise that I am pretty good when it comes to discernment. And I also promise that I will totally help you in a girl crisis and I will even write strange and difficult texts for you when you don't know how to respond (don't judge...I'm not above it...and I may have already done it)! Lastly...I promise whenever there is a girl in your life that you think may be sticking around for a while...I will welcome her in to our home and hearts...promise! I know one day you have to love another lady even more than you can ever love me...and I want that for you...someday...but not today...or anytime soon! Geez...I am tearing up again and this is supposed to be about high school...I should just shut up! Enough about girls!
3 - Judging - Please don't be judge-y of people boo. Daddy and I definitely have values and morals that we have tried to model to you and teach you...but we don't judge anyone else that might not have those same values. Love people boo. Love them well. Love them for who they are. You will make the biggest difference in someone's life if you love them well. Be the type of person that you would want to hang out with.
4 - School Work - Try. Like really try. I know you are super smart...and I know you can get super distracted. Grades matter now buddy. Set in your mind to do such a great job in school. I will help you. I will stay on top of your projects and homework assignments. I will remind you often about what you need to do...but you have to be the one to do the work and get good grades. I KNOW you can do it boo, and I am so proud of what you have already accomplished!
5 - Some people stink - Sometimes...no matter how nice or kind you are...some people are just mean. I'm sorry. You may never know what their home life is, how they have been treated in life, or why they are just plain mean. And...they will probably be mean to you. I'm sorry. There will be days when your feelings get hurt, and you are frustrated. That's ok. It happens. Just always know that not everyone is that way. Also know that you get to come home every day to a momma that thinks you are fiercely wonderful and amazing...and if I could I would beat up every little punk who is mean to you (although that seems to contradict the "love everyone" stuff ...it is really your momma just being protective! I do want you to love everyone...but that doesn't mean you have to interact with everyone).
6 - Hygiene - Smell good. It's a thing. Make sure you do it. I will always have cologne stocked for you in our home. You're welcome
7 - Gossip - Just don't do it. It's never worth it. If there is an issue with a friend of yours...address it with them. I promise you...it might be hard...but it is always worth it. Especially when you are older. Just don't talk bad about people in a group buddy...and don't be friends with people who do. If they talk bad about their "friends" they will probably talk bad about you too.
8 - Cell Phone - I get it...we are all on our phones all of the time. They connect us with others and they have the best features, games, and apps ever. I'm not saying to never use your phone (I would be a hypocrite to say that)...BUT...have moments when you put it away. Have a real face to face conversation with a friend. Lie in the grass and look at the clouds once in a while. Take a bike ride and tun your phone off. Have a meal with a friend and leave your phone in your pocket. Take a nature hike and just breathe in the moment instead of taking pictures of everything. Keep your phone...it's great technology...but make sure that your nose is not glued to the screen 24/7.
9 - Proud - I wanted to have a list of 9 things because you are going in to the 9th grade (see what I did there?!?)...but I just want this last thought to let you know that I am proud of you. Just you. Not your accomplishments (although I love them), not the chores you do around the house (although they are so super helpful), not your talents (although you are super gifted), and not even your wisdom (although your care and compassion and quest for knowledge are far beyond your years). Buddy...I am proud of just you. Who you are at your core. Flaws and all. And nothing you could ever do would make me love you less.You are my boy...and you always will be!
So...go get 'em! Go be awesome in high school. Learn. Create. Make friends. Have fun. Make mistakes. Make good decisions. Make bad decisions (you will learn from them...but for my blood pressures sake...try not to make too many of those). Be you buddy...and know that your momma is with you every step of the way (just not in a creepy way...like I won't actually take steps with you at school...unless you want me to...and I totally will...but I am pretty sure as much as I would love that...you would hate that...so I would never actually do that...because I'm not THAT crazy...or at least I try to hide it. Also...don't write run-on sentences like I do...I am terrible at that...kind of like right now). I love you boo! - Momma