I wish you all could meet my oldest son. You guys, I did really good with this one, I really did. He is a doll. He is one of those people you just want to be around, the sort of person who makes you feel good just being in their company. He is funny and articulate and one of those people who sincerely cares about what other people think. He’s the kind of kid, all six foot three of him, who wanders into the kitchen and asks if he can help and then asks you a million questions about what you think is the best Bowie album. He is helpful and interesting and just has this huge heart and is very charismatic and ugh, he is a good guy. And he is a good guy because of me. OK, I can’t take all the credit, he has a great bio-dad and a wonderful stepfather and grandmas who adore him and lots of other people in his life who have helped to turn him into the man he is quickly becoming. But I have made an effort throughout his growing up to teach him some things that I think will help him get by in this great big world, and here are what I feel are some of the most important ones…
1. Always Be Kind To Animals, Young People, And Old People. Hopefully the majority of people you meet are kind to animals, old people and babies. But in my life I have encountered people who say things like “I hate effing dogs” or they are rude and dismissive of little kids or they act all bored if they have to hold a conversation with someone over the age of 70. Sure, some people hate certain types of animals or will say things jokingly like “Kids annoy me” but nothing is more of a warning sign to me then someone who is an actual jerk to any of the above. Those people scare me.
2. That Women Are Equal To Men. I talk about feminism in my house. My boys don’t call women “sluts” and they are taught to respect women. Yeah, it goes a lot deeper than that but we talk a lot about how not to be a dudebro around here.
3. That It Isn’t Always About You. This goes beyond empathy and includes things like opening the doors for people, offering seats to people, and just having general manners. I’ve taught my kid to ask questions and listen when people are talking and take the time to actually hear what they are saying.
4. How To Cook A Few Things. I’ve always been shocked at the adult men I’ve met who can’t throw together a decent meal that doesn’t include boiling water and opening a box of macaroni and cheese. All boys should know how to prepare a meal that doesn’t come from cans and jars, even if it’s making a salad or roasting a simple chicken and making rice.
5. How To Clean House. Mothers, do not send your sons out into this world expecting anyone else they should ever decide to live with to clean up after them. Teach them to properly vacuum, pick up their own shiz, and wash their own clothing. One day they will hopefully fall in love with someone. This person is not their maid, regardless of gender.
6. About ‘Lady’ Things. Before I had a hysterectomy I was basically bleeding all day. Constantly. Maybe it was a lucky thing because I was very open about my reproductive issues and on occasion my sons witnessed me bleeding so profusely I had to be hospitalized. They have witnessed both me and their father throw bloody bedding into the wash. They have seen a gazillion tampon and pad boxes in the bathroom. One thing I plan on telling my daughter is that she should never ever ever sleep with a man who has issues running to the drugstore to pick her up tampons. I’ve taught my son that periods are nothing to be “grossed out” by.
7. To Appreciate Music. OK, I can’t take all the credit for this because so many of the people in his life love music, and all kinds of music. And as far as kids these days go, I think that if they enjoy music and insist on playing it at deafening volumes from their cool rooms they have made in the basement, they should at least know that Deadmau5 has been known to sample Chopin.
8. A Love Of Books. I was born to a family of readers and I’m raising a family of readers. I started sharing my favorite love of reading with my son from the first week he was born and I haven’t stopped. I’m always leaving books I have enjoyed on his bed and we all talk about books a lot. I think reading is pretty much the best thing in the world, second only to that thing people do when naked. I love reading, and I get on best with people who also love reading.
9. To Earn Things. I’ve taught him that if he wants things in this life, he has to work for them. I don’t spoil him. I don’t do his assignments for him. I’ve taught him that if he wants a nice life he has to take steps in order to make this happen. He is lucky and blessed because he lives in a warm house and has enough food to eat and gets to attend a good school with excellent teachers. He is fully aware of the opportunities he has, and that it is up to him to appreciate these things and not take them for granted. Same with bonus items he wants like video games and recording equipment and date money. He wants these things, he has to earn them.
10. Not To Be An Asshole. This includes just being a generally nice person and having manners, but also to just not being an asshole. Stick up for the bullied. Speak out when you witness bigotry and racism. Call your friends out when they are calling girls “bitches.” Do the right thing. I decided to have this kid. I brought him into the world. It’s my job as a parent that I let him out into the world to do no harm and to hopefully make it a better place when he has the opportunity. He will fail, and make mistakes, and at times be in a jerky mood and drive me crazy. But overall, he’s someone I am proud of. I can’t take full responsibility for who he has become, but I like to think I helped a bit.