This evening in a moment of whimsy I was thinking about the sort of advice I’d be able to impart to my daughter in the event of my untimely demise. I have to admit that the desire to give Darcy the benefit of my accumulated years of wisdom didn’t strike me like a bolt from the blue.
It occurred when I realized that she had been quietly hiding behind a chair in the living room for a half an hour or so putting the rocks in her mouth.
Apparently Darcy has become a connoisseur of sorts with rocks, and had been up to it all day. She’d carefully lined up four or five of the damn things in no order I could easily discern. Other than the fact that all of them appeared to be in her mouth at one point or another I could only assume that they were organized according to taste.
It was as I yelled “get those goddamned things out of your mouth” when I realized that the phrase encompassed every bit of wisdom I hoped to impart to my daughter. It was a sad moment for both of us. After nearly forty years you’d think I’d have something more profound to say but there it was. “Get that goddamned thing out of your mouth”.
I’m certain those words will haunt me for years and, I will most likely, utter them again in different circumstances that propriety forbids me to mention.
The incident brought into relief the fact that I really didn’t have much in the way of tangible and pertinent advice to give my daughter. Sure there’s the usual stuff that most people know. Never engage in a land war in Russia. No one has ever contracted syphilis from a tractor seat. A rash is never just a rash especially when genitals are concerned.
After a few drinks and a few minutes of introspection I came up with a list of fifteen rules for my daughter.
- Take any bit of advice with a grain of salt. Think for yourself. This does not apply to your mother or father until you are in your mid twenties
- Stand up straight. You will most likely be tall. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a woman who hunches over to fit into the crowd and no better way to announce yourself as a target to any predatory asshole looking for a good time and a free meal.
- Be who you are. Let your freak flag fly. Dress up like a princess or go Goth. Paint, write, or play football. Do not let anyone make you feel uncomfortable about being yourself but always be aware of how your appearance and actions will be interpreted by others.
- Do not put anything on your body that you wouldn’t want to see in forty years. This includes tattoos and men.
- Put on your pants before your shoes. Your father forgets this piece of advice on a regular basis.
- Know that you are beautiful, not perfect and understand the difference between the two. Be comfortable in your own skin and understand that it is a vehicle, not a means to an end.
- Read. Always. Read deeply and broadly. Most importantly read opinions that differ from your own. In order to truly disagree with a point of view you must understand it first.
- Be kind. Stick up for the underdog, the little girl in braces and ratty hair wearing second hand Osh Kosh clothes in middle school just might turn out to be your best friend, invite you to join her startup company after college and provide you with the financial means to take care of your parents in their golden years.
- Girls between the ages of seven and twenty one can be the nastiest people on the planet. Please feel free to kick any one of them in the pussy if they make you feel like you are less than yourself. Your mother and I have money for bail.
- Understand that bullies generally come from shitty families. This does not excuse their behavior. Have some measure of sympathy for them and, if they assault you verbally or physically, ask them if their daddy still touches them where they pee from when they go to sleep.
- When confronted with aggression strike the last blow, not the first. We don’t start shit in this family. We finish it.
- Never quit. Persistence is the key to success. The most successful people in the world do not simply fall ass backward into money and fame and notoriety. More often than not they have tried and failed and tried and failed again and again and again. What separates them from the rest is that they get back up, dust themselves off, determine what they’ve learned and continue on.
- Learn when to quit. Some causes, people and pursuits are just not worth the effort.
- Understand that the habits you start now become habits for life. One of your father’s cousins started smoking and became a chronic masturbator in his teens some twenty years ago. We haven’t seen him since,
- Above all know that your mother and father love you but we are not your peers. You will have enough friends. Our purpose is to train you to stand on your own two feet. That said we will always have your back. Anytime. Anywhere.