People have said that second born kids tend to get lost in the shuffle. That’s why I’ve tried extra hard, to make sure his birth order was never a detriment. Towards that end, we’ve gone on trips, just he and I, to places near and far. From camping at a State Camp Ground near our house to trips to Italy, Iceland, Germany, and Austria. Our entire family shares a passion for travel and adventure.
These days, Chase is taller than I am. He also works harder to get what he wants than anyone I know. He’s generous to a fault. I think he prefers his mom’s cooking to mine — as does just about everyone — and likes his sister a lot more than he’s willing to admit.
Yes, Chase, you’re one smart teenager. But as you finish your 17th year, here are 17 things I want you to know.
1. Life can turn on a dime.
My wife’s mother, your grandmother, died not too long ago. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Never take anything for granted. Be grateful and tell your loved ones you love them — every chance you get.
2. Read The Economist or NY Times every week.
Make knowing what’s going on in the world a priority.
3. Don’t hold a grudge.
There have been times when I’ve been slow to forgive, and it’s nearly destroyed some pretty important relationships. You’ll learn over time that most things that may seem absolutely outrageous in the moment are quickly forgotten. Everyone makes mistakes. You make mistakes too. The worst thing you can be is judgmental.
4. It’s not uncool to have mom and dad in your corner.
When I was struggling when the gym was just starting. Not having enough time to even breathe. My mother called me up asked if we needed anything, Just knowing she was there for me made all the difference.
5. There’s nothing wrong with a sugary snack every once in awhile.
I will attest to it!
6. Always stay close with your sister. Sibling relationships are more important than you can imagine.
One day, they will be the only people who still remember your childhood.
7. Keep a journal.
You might think you’ll remember your favorite teachers, or what it was like to when you spent your first night out at the lake house. Write things down. Take photos. Look back.
8. If someone tells you a secret,and asks you not to tell anyone, don’t.
If you tell a friend, it will get back to them. It really will.
10. It is usually not about you.
As you grow older, don’t worry so much about looking a certain way. Most of the time, no one is paying attention. Really. People like to think everyone is focused on them but, in actuality, people are usually focused mostly on themselves. And if someone does something to you that’s hurtful, it’s almost certainly related to something going on in their life that has nothing to do with you.
11. If you need to go far, far away to pursue your musical dreams, then do it.
Some dreams have expiration dates.
12. Be kind to those you meet on the way up because you may meet them again on the way down.
This is an old saying and you may find it silly. But it’s definitely true. Down the road, your behavior towards others will dictate how they behave towards you.
13. Practice the skills we’ve tried to teach you.
Before you go off to college, you must become more adept at cooking, cleaning and taking care of your finances. I know it’s a pain, but one day you’ll thank me.
14. Modesty is very attractive.
A lot of moms and dads these days walk around telling their offspring how spectacular they are, and that they can do everything perfectly. As a result, many kids exude this sort of “I’m better than everyone else” self-confidence. And no doubt it’s nice to be self-confident. But being humble will draw others to you, and make you stand out, much more than pounding on your chest ever will.
15. Show up for important events.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend the weekend at an older relative’s 80th birthday celebration, or even a Sunday afternoon at your little cousin’s band concert, but it’s important you do. I’ve learned the hard way that failing to show up at a major event is one of the most common reasons relationships break down. Be there for others and they’ll be there for you.
16. Attitude is a small thing that makes a very big difference.
The older I get, the more convinced I am that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. Hanging around people who complain all the time brings you down. Being positive and thinking good thoughts will help make good things happen. Attitudes are contagious. I really believe that.
17. Wherever you end up in life, you will always have a home so long as your mom and I are alive.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, we’ll always love you like crazy.
So happy 17th birthday, you quiet, smart, handsome “Walking Dead” fanatic. I couldn’t be more proud.