Great expectations

Anytime I’ve been asked to give advice to youngsters, I tell them to follow two simple rules and they’ll be okay:

  1. Stay in school
  2. Don’t do drugs

It doesn’t mean that those who don’t follow those rules won’t be okay in life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that by following those rules, you will achieve all your dreams but it does mean that you’ll do okay.

A friend recently asked, “Surely that’s not all the advice you can give. There’s loads of other stuff kids should do to succeed.”

I shook my head, “Nope, that’s it.”

She frowned. “Are you telling me that that’s all you’re gonna tell your kids when you have them? ‘Stay in school. Don’t do drugs’?”

I nodded. “Well of course there’ll be other stuff but that’s the barebones of it.”

“Just you wait,” she said. “There’ll be no end to the stuff you want your kids to learn and do and say.”

That conversation got me thinking about children and wondering whether I would have sky-high expectations of them the way I do with myself. I recently commented to a friend that I could have done so much more with my life. I don’t know where this hunger for more turns into greed but it is certainly one of my malaises. I have decided that if I have kids I will go easy on them and be satisfied as long as they do well in school and stay away from drugs. Oh, and one more thing. I hope that they will be readers. I seriously, honestly, genuinely think that reading in one’s youth gives a person a kind of deeper intelligence or knowledge (or maybe wisdom) that is missing from so many people. I can’t really explain this intangible quality but I hope that it settles in my children.

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