Advice To The Son I May Never Have

by Toby Herman
Originally Published: 

Hey, kid.

So, the other day I put together some advice for your someday/maybe sister, just some things I’ve picked up here and there that she’ll need should she actually exist one day. Well, quite a few people asked when I was going to put together a list for you, my equally nonexistent boy! Once I stopped laughing, it occurred to me that I’ve never (nope, not even for a second) considered the notion that I could—in fact—have a son one day. Well, should it come to pass, we are both going to need a little guidance. So here is my first attempt to help you navigate through life, should you have one!



Please love me. I promise that despite how it looks, I’m actually doing my best.

I’m sorry I never got you a dog.

The closest we’ve ever come to having an athlete in the family was when I used to strike out at tee-ball. Maybe think about taking up a musical instrument? Girls like drummers. Plus they get to sit while they work, which works well for our family.

I’m hoping math skills are like twins and they skip a generation, so you will be a whiz at mathematics or at least have the skills to sort out an 18 percent tip without using an app. If not, well, there’s an app for that.

I want to understand Star Wars, I do.

I will never understand Star Wars.

I am going to take you to your first concert. I want to share that with you. Just like I shared mine with your grandparents, your aunt and Neil Diamond.

The word “emotion” has the word “motion” in it because feelings are supposed to move, be active and engage. With other human things. Don’t deny how you feel.

Also? Guys who can cry are fucking hot. Be hot, son!

Stratus clouds are the straight ones. Cumulus clouds are the ones that look like they’ve accumulated a bunch of cotton balls.

Learn your way around a vagina.

Come to terms with the fact that you’ll never know your way around a vagina.

God, I hope you’re gay.

If you love someone, SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS. Love is a fickle thing, so dive in headfirst whenever she deems you worthy.

I don’t care if you get a tattoo. Just promise you’ll call me. And not just then. Like, maybe, every day? We can discuss. Excited about the tattoo, though!

We will be spending Thanksgiving together.

Yes, every year.

Listen to Big Star, Velvet Underground and early Springsteen.

If you ever blame a woman’s mood on her period, I will personally ensure that you, too, hemorrhage from your nether region every 28 to 31 days.

Scars are beautiful. Even the ones from mole removal. Get your skin checked.

There are going to be friends of yours whom I do not enjoy. This is normal. So is listening to me and immediately breaking off all ties with them forever without explanation.

If you can’t remember why you kept something, throw it out. I promise, you’ll know what to keep.

The Apartment is a perfect movie.

In this family, we don’t return a phone call with a text message.

You’re going to need meds. I’m sorry. But hopefully you’ll also inherit my good hair and astute sense of humor. Oh! And my humility.

Respect Beyoncé. She is as much your mother as I am.

Learn how to dance. Not like take lessons (I mean take them, what do I care?) but learn how to be comfortable dancing. Learn how you dance.

It’s okay to hold a door open for a woman. In fact, it’s nice.

Walk on the outside closer to the curb when you walk down the street with a girl.

Offer your seat to the young, knocked up and old.

Manners do not go out of style.

You’ll never forget what “vacillate” means if you imagine yourself standing in front of shelves and shelves of Vaseline, having to choose which one to buy.

If something’s worth fighting for, fight for it.

Find comfort in silence and beauty in the in-between.

Have one really great dish you know how to make that doesn’t involve a grill, a “fill to” line or a Hot Pocket.

Embrace whiskey.

Let fear be a motivator.

Let pain be a challenge.

Read The Things They Carried.

Have sex in a foreign language.

Go to camp, college and therapy.

One can be honest while remaining kind and decent.

Learn to forgive. If I hadn’t learned this, I would never have made it past season 2 of Friday Night Lights.

Make it past season 2 of Friday Night Lights.

Use a condom (during sex).

Take the time to really clean your tub.

When you love someone, know their middle name, their birthday and their handwriting.

Celebrate your friends. And let them celebrate you.

Figure out who makes you laugh the most, then don’t let go.

I don’t think I’m very good at relationship advice—which could be a factor as to why I can smell 40 and am single and sitting in not the closest Starbucks but the closest Starbucks with parking, writing to my nonexistent son. But I will tell you this: No one will ever know what you’re thinking unless you tell them.

I am thinking of you right now, kid.

And I love you.

I’m so glad you someday/maybe might be mine.

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