Recently I asked my family members to write a letter to my boy who was turning 13 to share with him their hopes and advice for his future. The following letter was from my cousin who summed up so perfectly everything I wanted to say, only better.
You are 4748 days old, which is 678 weeks and 3 days. That’s 13 years, including 3 leap years. You’ve travelled around the Sun 13 times, which is a total distance of 12220,000,000 kilometres. You were born on a Saturday, your last birthday was a Sunday and today… well, we both know what day it is.
You’re entering into your teenage years now. It’s a time of change, a time of discovery and maturity. But don’t be worried – everyone passes through this gate. Now it’s your turn. So, what’s in store – who knows? It depends on you really; depends on what you want in life. I don’t mean stuff, like toys and games or how much money you have. Those things can help and can certainly make life easier. But, in my opinion, life is as good as the people you surround yourself with; family, mates, your community, pets (sure, pets aren’t people, but if you look hard enough – you may discover otherwise!). Now, you can’t choose your family – you’re stuck with them – but you can choose your mates (and pets). Some of the mates you’ll meet in your teenage years will be your mates forever, but not all of them. But that’s okay; you’ll know a true friend when you find them.
A few tips:
Read. As much as you can. Read books, both fiction and non-fiction. Read the news. Read about your favourite sports. Read old books. Read new books. Read music. Read about science and space and technology. Read about history, especially Australian history. Just read and keep reading. You’ll discover new worlds and ideas that will help you navigate through life. It’s why people have written the words on the page. And, trust me, you’ll thank yourself ten years from now. Maybe even longer.
Listen to music. From rock, pop, classical, electronic, ambient, rap, metal, Pink Floyd, new and old, music from around the world, weird instruments, traditional instruments and, do yourself a favour, the Beatles. Know what music sounds like and how it makes you feel. Play it loud. And if you can’t play it loud, get a set of headphones. Music is about how you feel. If you’re down, music will help. If you’re up, music will help. Go to gigs. Learn about the local music scene. And get your brother hooked on it too because he’ll thank you in the long run.
Play sport. A wise man once said, ‘sports are a chance for us to make other human beings push us to excel’. Teamwork is what he’s on about. You don’t have to go it alone; others around you will help. And this advice is not only about sport – this is life. Trust your teammates and keep your eyes on the ball.
Take your time. Go your own pace. Don’t rush. Don’t measure yourself against others or you’ll always be playing catch-up. Everyone is different and has their own expectations – of themselves and others. Try to remember life is not a race.
If this letter doesn’t make sense now, just wait a wee while. It will become clearer over time. And, even then, feel free to phone me and talk. I’ll do my best to explain and I’ll always be honest. But know I’m still learning. We all are. Enjoy your teenage years. Enjoy school. Enjoy your pals and family. Be respectful of others. Work hard. But whatever you do, never lie to your mum – she’ll know when you are! Like I said, everyone passes through this gate. Now, it’s your turn. And look how far you’ve come already.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WEE MAN.
Much love xx
****** and JD (meow!)
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