Advice For My 12-Year-Old Son Flickr / Star 5112
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Why The Advice I Gave My 12-Year-Old Son To Start The School Year Involves A Burrito

The following was syndicated from Pass The Sour Cream for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

Dear 12-year-old son,

We’re biking to school and it’s your first week and I know that I have another 7 minutes to prepare you for the rest of your life – or at least for today at school.

What I think I want to do is teach you everything that I know, give you every secret of life and fill your growing mind with all of my experiences and knowledge that I have acquired in my years.

I don’t want you to be nervous about the day, I want you to know that it’s going to be okay, that you’re on top of the world and it’s all really just a game and you’re the one in control of the pieces. Granted, the game is not exactly Chutes And Ladders but maybe more like Risk or Settlers of Catan, but still, it’s a game.

But it’s not a game to win – it’s a game to play.

kid posing with car collection
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Sure, you might win, but that’s not the objective. I know that’s extremely difficult to understand and it’s a huge topic. This is again why I’d like to put my hand on your shoulder, even as we bike to school, and download all of this for you. So you know, so you don’t have to struggle and suffer and sift through it all. You’ll just know.

You’re winning by playing. You don’t play to win, you win to play.

As I reach over on the bike path to share that knowledge with you, I hesitate because I’m not sure there’s enough bike path left to complete the full download, but also, if you receive everything I know right now, how will you know what it means relative to where you are?

But it’s not a game to win – it’s a game to play.

I want to tell you about learning languages (although you seem to have even more of a knack for that than I do!). I want to help you make friends, make math easier, talk to girls, get a job, make money, give of yourself, be a stand-up human, follow your dreams, don’t give up, don’t give in, keep at it, know when to turn, drive a car, figure out the meaning of life and how to make a chorizo burrito (hint: they’re related).

But if I download all of that right now on this bike path to you then what do you have left to figure out? Because, of course, my mind contains all knowledge known to mankind.

But it’s also mine. It’s not yours. You need to blaze your own trail, make your own mistakes, learn how to best learn from them and improve on them and how to not make them again – unless you’ll learn even more from them. So as much as I want to tell you everything in the next 4 minutes, I’m running out of time and you’re going to have to, no, you’re going to want to, no, you’re going to revel in figuring it all out for yourself.

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But know that I’m here for you and I see the roundabout ahead where you want me to turn off so it doesn’t look like your dad is biking with you to school. If I can impart any wisdom in the next 30 seconds of bike path while not giving away the entire meaning of the universe, I’ll leave you with this on this fine summer morning my dear son:

If you’re unsure about who you are or what to say or what to do: be yourself. You don’t have to think about it at all, it just happens and you shouldn’t have to try. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, then you’re not being yourself. Being yourself takes zero effort and works wonders.

Mix a little sour cream into your chorizo burrito. It makes it creamier and adds a little sharpness to the flavor.

Have a great day at school!

For more of Bradley’s writing, check out his blog: Pass The Sour Cream.