Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Advice to a 16 Year Old Boy

Today I opened our shared drive looking for a recipe from my grandmother for Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy Sauce. It involves a couple of cans of sludge, er...condensed soup...and I want to create an updated, healthier version of a traditional favorite.

That is, if heavy cream can be considered healthy.

If you want to see how it turns out, check back with Apéritif Friday in a few weeks to see if my 2018 version becomes blog worthy.

In the meantime though, in searching our files for the recipe, I came across a document titled "Jake Advice." Ironically, I've been thinking about penning some words of wisdom for him in the coming months to share before he embarks upon that life-altering experience known as college life. I shared some advice with his sister a few years ago, and in the spirit of trying to keep things equal for the second born who naturally gets the shaft when it comes to parental attention (I'm the baby of the family myself. I know these things. Where's my baby book, Mom?), this is one thing I'll follow through with.

However.

Today's distraction leading me down the rabbit hole proved worthy of sharing with you all. In the fall of 2016, Ms. Hornik, Jake's junior year AP English teacher, asked the parents to complete a little homework assignment as they studied Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She encouraged us to read a passage between Polonius, a concerned father, and his son, Laertes, who is headed off to Paris. Polonius shares some sage advice with his son, and Ms. Hornik asked the parents of her students: "What advice would you like to share with your son or daughter today?"

God love you, Shakespeare, for your timeless soliloquies. I can just see Laertes rolling his eyes while his concerned father drones on like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Mu wha wha wha wha...

Fellow Gen Xer Parents know exactly what I'm talking about.

I geek out over these types of requests and take them very seriously. I read and reread the advice from Polonius, then surely made good ole Will shudder with my own words to my modern-day teenager. That's all right. I love this kid and can't wait to see what happens next with him.

October 30, 2016

Dear Jake:

As Polonius provides unsolicited advice to Laertes prior to his departure to France, I’ve been tasked with providing you some advice at this time in your life. You’re on the cusp of great things, and sometimes a little Mom nag in your ear can’t hurt.
  1. Don’t be an asshole.
  2. If something feels wrong in your gut or in your head, it probably is. Avoid it.
  3. You’re laid back and chill. Use it to your advantage in stressful situations. Calm other people down. They’ll come to you as a natural leader because you know things aren’t life or death – until they are life or death. Then you’ll be the one to administer the Heimlich or call 911.
  4. Influence people by debating passionately. Not by fighting. If you have to fight with someone to see your side of the argument, you’ll never sway them.
  5. Smile. Yours is heart melting, and you’ll win hearts-a-many just by crinkling your eyes and turning up the corners of your mouth.
  6. Be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking, at least until you’re 30.
  7. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and take some risks. Even if it means you fail. You’ll never know how awesome something might be unless you try.
  8. I love that you’re comfortable at home doing the things you love, but challenge yourself to engage socially with others. You’ll have to do that for the rest of your life, so you might as well start now.
  9. Be the one to make plans. Ask a friend to hang out. Go to the movies with someone. Invite some buddies over for a video game tournament.
  10. When all else fails, revert to # 1 and everything else will fall into place as it should. 

In closing, as cheesey as it sounds, I personally love Polonius’ final word of advice. “This above all: To thine own self be true.” There may be no better words of parental wisdom ever written to a child, except this:

Don’t be an asshole.

I love you,

Mom