No ties, please. No cufflinks or gift certificates. No presents at all, really.
Kid, if you’re struggling for some last-minute token for Father’s Day, here’s what I’d really like — this year and for years to come:
I want you to know there’s no end game. The sports you play, the colleges you get into, the accolades you pile up, sure, yes, of course, I’ll always cheer the loudest and you’ll be like, “I don’t know that guy,” and I’ll be all, “THAT’S MY GIRL!” and you may not speak to me until you’re 30, but you should always know you’re good enough no matter what.
I want you to find a good friend. Someone who will cut someone for you, or at the very least not talk shit behind your back.
Don’t let some anonymous asshole with a keyboard determine your self worth. You are always more than a “like” count on whatever social media program happens to be popular at the time.
No, seriously, I mean it. You wouldn’t go up to the crazy dude in town square or that homeless lady we see on the street and say, “Do you like my outfit?” or “Do you think I’m hot?” That’s absurd, right? Who would do that? Millions of people online, every day. That’s who. Your friends and future buds. It’s something I never had to deal with growing up, this spotlight of petty strangers, and it scares the absolute shit out of me to think this is the culture you’re growing up with. I can only hope to help guide you toward that internal strength that says: “That’s just … creepy.”
Find a shitty friend. Someone who will get you in trouble — just enough to learn a good lesson but not enough to require bail money or morning after pills.
When you get that urge to scream, “I hate you!” and slam the door, please for the love of god, kid, direct all that noise at me because if you aim that shit at your mother you won’t believe how long that door will remain slammed. That will not stand.
Don’t let it get to your head when people say, “You’re so smart!” Because you have a lazy father who thought that was enough and learned only later that hard work and luck is how good things happen.
Practice gratitude even when you’re not around us.
Everyone has a freak flag and the truly cool people of the universe don’t wait until they’re out of high school to fly it.
When you meet people for the first time and you’re awkwardly chatting and don’t really know what to say, don’t ask: “So … what do you do?” Ask instead, “So … what do you like to do for fun?” You’ll meet the absolute greatest people in the world this way.
On that note: Don’t let work define you. It’s a part of how you live your life. It’s not you.
Find a fun hobby or sport or volunteer program — something that makes you smile when you think about it.
Listen to your mother. She knows what the fuck she’s talking about.
Try not to swear as much as your father but come slip into my arms after a bad day if you ever want to hear anyone say, “Fuck those motherfuckers. You’re the fucking best!”
Know this: I will never call a professor for you. You get a bad grade, that’s your own damn fault. Work harder next time or clear away whatever obstacle is in your path.
Don’t ever forget how to change a flat tire.
You already know what it feels like when friends try to knock you down for no apparent reason. Don’t do that.
Come back to me. When I’m old and gray and can barely get out of the chair and the rest of the old codgers in the home won’t let me watch Columbo with them, I want you to bring a good book and we’ll sit and talk and read and laugh, and it will be the best present of all if you just grab my hand again and say, “Fuck those motherfuckers, pop. Let’s go for ice cream.”
out of the night that covers me,
black as the pit from pole to pole,
i thank whatever gods may be
for my unconquerable soul.
in the fell clutch of circumstance
i have not winced nor cried aloud.
under the bludgeonings of chance
my head is bloody, but unbowed.
beyond this place of wrath and tears
looms but the horror of the shade,
and yet the menace of the years
finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
it matters not how strait the gate,
how charged with punishments the scroll.
i am the master of my fate:
i am the captain of my soul.
- “invictus” by william ernest henley” —