I used to fall asleep dreaming about Tom Cruise when I was 11. When I was in my early 20s I fell asleep pretending to be an inspiring guest on Oprah. Lately however, I fall asleep having hypothetical conversations with my future teenage daughter.
Addie is officially closer to teen than toddler and some conversations have already started to bubble up about boobs, boys and tampons. If it’s true that you’re supposed to start talking to your kids about the things they need to know five years before they need to know it — future teenage Addie in my head is educated about a lot.
However I’ve realized that oftentimes the advice I’d give a current teenager wouldn’t be the same advice I’d give to Addie in 8 years. Maybe because I’m the one responsible for her? I don’t care if your kid dresses like a tramp and has a misspelled tattoo at 18, but I do care when it comes to mine.
I’d like to think I’d just lay it all out there, very matter of fact without any reverse psychology or ulterior motives. I’ve made mistakes, chances are Addie is going to make a few too, it would feel hypocritical to tell her not to do drugs (which she totally shouldn’t) but if she does, she should only do ones from trusted sources (bad drugs are a terrible thing, future Addie.)
I mean, see my conundrum? Am I projecting too much of myself onto her and she’ll never actually go down the same paths I did and telling her all this will damage her for life? Or is telling her the difference between a shot and a sidecar subliminally giving her permission to go forth and experiment? If she tries new and unusual things, I want her to at least try them safely. *sigh* But in reality I don’t want her to do anything illegal or dangerous. WHAT DO I DO?
So here they are, some of the hypothetical conversations I’ve had with Addie.
Heaven help me.
Drugs are really expensive, and not really worth it. There are also all different kinds — some high quality, some not so much. Using them incorrectly will make you really sick and eventually, despite your best efforts — drugs will make you dumb. Maybe not full on dumb, but it will GREATLY diminish your potential.
Hopefully you’ve learned enough from dad’s legal shows by now to never carry drugs with you and never, EVER have drug paraphernalia in your car. (More on this when we get to the section entitled ‘jail.’)
Basically, drugs? SO EXPENSIVE. So dangerous. Don’t do it. We’ll talk about how I know this later. Sigh.
If you get arrested, I am not coming to bail you out. This isn’t some grand “You got yourself into this mess, you can get yourself out” type of thing, it’s just what my mom said to me and you know what?
Knowing no one is going to come bail you out is the best motivation to never get arrested in the first place.
Remind me to tell you about the time I pushed my boyfriend out of the way to keep him between the cops and me, he’d been to jail before. I had a perfect record to maintain.
3. Drunk Driving
Make me a promise RIGHT NOW that you will never EVER get in the car with someone who has been drinking. Also that you will NEVER drive while intoxicated. EVER.
If it comes down to calling me to pick you up from a party at 3 am versus you getting a ride home with someone who is drunk (or worse yet you try to drive yourself?) YOU CALL ME. Yes, you will still get grounded, but you will live to see another day because I can promise you that even if you don’t wreck in a drunk person’s car, I’d make you a wreck come morning.
Also, DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE. What are you, stupid?
Don’t dress trashy. Don’t dress to attract unwanted attention. Wear what makes you happy. Develop your own sense of style that doesn’t rely on how much of your cleavage is showing or how short your shorts are. Cute does not mean slutty, summer does not mean skin hanging out and modest does not mean frumpy or old.
The way you dress will directly impact the way you are treated in every single situation in life, you deserve to be respected so dress to be respected.
If there’s one superbly dumb thing you could do in your teenage years, drinking would be it. It’s like the gateway to any bad decision ever made. There’s no reason to drink when you’re young, and there’s absolutely no reason to get drunk.
Fun my ass.
Spend an evening surrounded with people you like, then watch as they get drunk and you stay sober.
They look and act like idiots. You don’t want to be that idiot. If you ever do get drunk and end up with a hangover? You’d better believe I’m not going to let you sleep it off, idiot.
6. Peer Pressure
When it comes to peer pressure, LIE YOUR FACE OFF.
Cigarettes: “Aw man, I tried one once and it made my asthma so bad I had to go to the ER, you don’t want that on your hands do you?”
Drinking: If you’re holding a Red Solo Cup no one should be trying to get you a drink, even if you just have Coke in it. If they taste it and call your bluff? Tell them they’re too drunk to taste it. You only have to fake it for so long before everyone else is so far gone that you won’t even have to worry about elaborate lies.
Drugs: “Dude, that stuff is cut with peanuts and I’m totally allergic.”
Shoplifting: “My mom said if I need a thrill she’d shove me off a cliff.”
Basically, you can blame everything on your dad and me if it gets you out of a sticky situation. PLEASE, BLAME US FOR EVERYTHING.
“No, my dad’s a lawyer and my mom has rage issues” will solve a lot of peer pressure problems.
Don’t waste your time.
I understand the temptation and the curiosity but A) it will just make you feel terrible about yourself and B) SO FAKE.
When you eat bad food your body can and will get rid of it by any means necessary, however when you take bad stuff into your mind your mind cannot get rid of it. It cannot be unseen and images like those are not ones you want floating around in your brain. Promise.
At some point you’re going to sneak off to a party; there’s about a hundred different ways to do this and I can promise you I’ve done them all.
If you end up at a party where you feel terribly uncomfortable or unsafe and want to leave but don’t have a ride, I will come get you. I’ll even pick you up two blocks away so your friends don’t see you leave with your mom. Your safety is more important to me than anything. (Also, you’re grounded.)
9. Tattoos and Piercings
I have them. Your dad has them. Pretty much everyone has them these days. Our church says you shouldn’t get them, and you probably shouldn’t — but in the event that you do, make sure it’s awesome. Make an appointment with a reputable studio, don’t just do it on a whim while in Vegas. Pay good money for a real artist, this is going to be on you FOREVER, treat it as such.
Make sure it’s something that has DEEP meaning to you, not just something you like at the moment or something that is trendy (echoed by every girl who currently sports a faded butterfly tattoo on her lower back.)
Same with piercings. Do them safely please.
In a perfect world everyone would wait until they were married, I feel VERY strongly about this. Imagine you meet “the one” and find out he’s saved himself his whole life just for you, then imagine the heartbreak of having to tell him “Sorry, you just weren’t that important for me to wait for.”
I know this heartbreak because it happened to me.
Sex is awkward, it complicates things and it can smell funny. That being said, it can also be pretty damn spectacular when you’re with a person who loves and treasures you. There will be a lot of times when sex seems like a really good idea, but I can promise you you’ll never regret saying no to the multiple opportunities you will have, however you will regret saying yes to almost all of them.
Say no? Nothing much happens. Say yes? Say hello to the possibility of pregnancies, diseases and reputations.
Treasure yourself. Honor yourself. You’re worth being treasured and honored, never forget that.
You’re gay? Okay. I love you!
12. Mean Girls and Gossip
Don’t get sucked into it. Walk away. Be the bigger person. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It may not be popular in the moment, but it will show you who your true friends are. Words hurt, so bad. Screw “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Words can and do hurt worse than all the sticks an stones in the world, don’t be the one uttering them.
13. Your Period
Every girl gets them, don’t be ashamed to ask for tampons or pads if you need them. Always be ready to offer one if needed. If you talk about it like it’s a giant secret to be ashamed of people will treat it like a giant secret you should be ashamed of. Treat it like something we all have to do like showering or brushing our teeth? It’s no big deal.
Also, buy the good pads and tampons, yes. There’s a difference.
When it comes time to get real bras (and if you develop anything like I developed, the time will be sooner than later) make sure you get good bras. Not only will they keep your boobs perky, they will make your clothes look better. Good bras and underwear are the true start to a good outfit.
Don’t just buy bras because they are pretty, buy them because they make the clothes you wear on top of them look pretty.
15. Hair and Makeup
If you’re anything like me you’re going to want to do crazy things with your hair and makeup. Fine. All I ask is that you put in the time to learn how to do it right, there are way too many victims of incorrect eyeliner application walking around out there. If you want lessons? We’ll find someone to give you lessons. If you want rainbow streaks? We’ll find someone to give you rainbow streaks, don’t risk losing all your hair to peroxide because you’re afraid to ask for help.
16. Learn Everything, Respect Everyone
Never think you’re too good to learn something from someone else. If you have a chance to learn something? Learn it. Don’t mess around in school, take it seriously, respect your teachers. Respect your elders. Respect differences. Don’t be a jerk, even when in the face of a hundred jerks.
17. The Secret to Life
“Be grateful, be smart, be clean, be true, be humble, be prayerful.” — Gordon B. Hinckley
To this I would add be nice, be honest, be trustworthy, be patient. But very most of all — just. be. kind.