This week my son finally finished all his A Level course work. He’s left school. That’s it, out into the big adult world. Goodbye little boy, hello young man. Of course it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a mother to him. I’m still on his case: he’s got a job to find, a world to negotiate. I’m not throwing him to the wind. But giving unsolicited advice to an 18 year old seems unwise. Here’s what I’ve learnt, what I’d tell him if he asked:
- Do what’s right. Stand up to injustice. Keep your counsel. Walk away. Whatever’s right. Don’t be a dick.
- Never underestimate the value of a secure home. One that you can’t be chucked out of, one that’s yours for as long as you want it. By all means wander, squander, but one day you will need to know you’ve got somewhere safe to be.
- Drinking five pints and then getting a piggy back from someone who’s drunk six is not a good idea. (Yes I have the scar to prove it.) Have fun, be safe.
- Being single is ALWAYS better than being in a rotten relationship.
- Not all friendships are made equal: some will be there for the fun times, some for the bad times. Know which are which. Nurture them all.
- Problems swept under the rug will always grow. And breed. And spawn new problems.
- Never sacrifice your friends for a relationship. A relationship that doesn’t respect and value your friendships is not worth having. (Also see 4)
- Trust your instincts: if something seems wrong, maybe it is wrong. Do something about it.
- Remember to smile at the small things: enjoy the sunrise, laugh at the rain, wonder at rainbows.
- Heartbreak feels calamitous, all consuming, like nothing will ever be right again. But it ALWAYS comes out OK. ALWAYS. Remember that.
What would you tell your kids, or your younger self (if giving unsolicited advice was a good idea)?