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I keep a journal I call “Things I Want my Boys to Know.” It’s basically a back-up plan in case a bus decides to catch me off guard while I’m out jogging.
The journal is brutally honest. I tell them all sorts of personal things, things I probably wouldn’t have the guts to say in person.
But I do it because I want my boys to know me — to really know me. And not just as the old dude who pays for stuff, but the dude I am today and will be tomorrow and when I turn 50. I want them to know my personality, my flaws, my opinions. Everything.
But they’re a long way off from reading it. And hopefully I’m a long way off from getting run over, too. So I thought y’all might like to read a few entries in the meantime.
1. When you climb into your car in a crowded parking lot, put the car in reverse and back out. Don’t mess around on your phone for 10 minutes. Someone is waiting for the spot.
2. You will always regret losing your temper. It’s okay to be angry. Some things should make you angry. But if you fly off the handle, you’ll regret it. Hold your anger until you can quiet your emotion. The time to express anger is when you’re calm. Your anger will still be present; the difference is you’ll be in control.
3. If you ever find yourself in a position where you can’t tip the valet, go find a parking spot.
4. If something makes you feel icky, it’s probably wrong. Trust the feelings your conscience gives you. God imbued it with power to lead you in the right direction. Don’t waste too much time rationalizing your life.
5. I have spent too many days regretting words I spoke in anger. I pray you do this less than me. Not because you have little remorse, but because you are kinder than I have been. Which, by the way, is all I really want you to be. Kind. Just be kind. Forget all the other life pressures. Nothing will make me more proud than if you’re kind.
6. I have loved you from the second your mother told me you were in the womb. But there have been times I wanted to hurt you both. I’m just saying.
7. Look at your waiter when they’re speaking to you. The menu will still be there when they walk away.
8. Nothing actually stays in Vegas, except your dignity. So don’t leave it there.
9. Your friends will never need your wise counsel as badly as they need your open ear. It’s okay if you don’t have the right words. You can always have the right ear.
10. Go to college in a city far from home. You’ll always have your hometown. Go find another. Explore its culture. Eat its food. Drink its wine. Get lost on its streets and fall in love with a girl who grew up there, but will let you move home when it’s all over.
Ryan Casey Waller is a writer who likes it when words make us feel better. He also likes it when they keep us up at night.