This summer, for the first time, I didn’t number the calendar with the days left until school started. I thought I’d trick time. But, it’s here—the beginning of the end. My heart pinches when I think about your childhood and understand it’s almost over. You are about to start your own life.
When you were a little boy, there were days that I wished you would just grow up. I was overwhelmed working full-time and raising you and your sister. I knew this moment would come, but it always felt like it was far, far away—something you would do later—when we would all be much older.
One day you’ll realize that your dad and I did the best we could. It was our first time at this parenthood thing. Nothing prepared us for how much you’d rock our worlds, how much we’d love you, and how much we’d fear for your safety. Your future is bright, still I hope I raised you right, loved you enough, gave you the tools to succeed, and more importantly, to be happy.
We have this bit of time—your senior year—before you’ll step out into the great big world. I’ll always be your mom and here for you, but here are some parting words of advice as you wave goodbye to your boyhood:
Just when you want to quit, don’t. You’re headed into your last year of high school and you’re sick of taking tests, studying, and trying to get good grades. But now is not the time to stop. Give it one more push. Work hard first semester and fortify your GPA and put a few extra hours into studying for the SAT. The do-overs are done. This is it! There will be plenty of times in your life that you’ve had enough and want “it” to be over and that’s when you know you have to push through whatever “it” is. Like Zig Ziglar says, “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
Be mindful of what you put into your body and your brain—food, drink, and anything illegal. You’re young, healthy, and handsome. Trust me, it doesn’t stay this way. It’s a battle. Form good eating habits. Learn to say “no” even when everybody else is saying “yes.” Take a break from electronics. Read a good book.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You think we’re stupid, that we don’t know what it’s like to be a kid, to have fun. Wrong! We’ve lived it. We are not trying to make your life miserable. We’ll save you a lot of heartache if you take our advice. It’s not only your dad and me to whom you should listen, pay attention to your aunts, uncles, teachers, and coaches. I hope you’ll agree with Mark Twain one day. He said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Make good choices. Checking a text while driving could change your life forever. Remember any babies you make are your own. Think before you act. I know most of the senior class wants to party. Try to stay out of trouble. A bad decision could ruin your opportunity to play college lacrosse or worse set your life on an entirely different path. Do everything in moderation and with good sense. Certain decisions do matter.
Give every pursuit your all. Whether you’re in the classroom, on the lacrosse field, or at your job. Show up early, stay late, practice when nobody is looking. Think about the kind of person you want to be and make your mark. If you’re going to be a bricklayer, be the best bricklayer around. Let your interactions with people reflect who you are. Find your unique gift to share with the world and give it. “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence.” (Anonymous)
Remember, we love you. Always and forever.
I can’t hold your hand and walk you to the bus stop this last first day of school. But I’ll take pictures and I might have to wipe a tear as you pull away from the curb in your old pick-up truck with your little sister in the passenger seat. You’ve grown up despite my misconception that this only happened to other families.
P.S. Reread the note I wrote you last year, A Letter To My Son As He Enters His Junior Year.
I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I’m spending my adulthood wishing I were younger.
American actor Ricky Schroder
Want to read more about raising teenagers? Try these quick reads:
Three Ways To Keep A Teenager Alive
Here Are The Secrets When Teaching A Teenager To Drive
S’Moreos are a fun summer treat to make after a Sunday dinner barbecue. Check out this Taste of Home Recipe HERE.