My son Andrew’s birthday — May 3 — is a most special day for him and an even bigger one for me.
Andrew, or Bones as I affectionately call him, is becoming a teenager, turning 13 this week, and I want to take a moment to speak both to and about him. As my son, no parent would be surprised when I say how much he means to me and what having him as a son feels like, what an absolutely special honor it is being his father. I would, however, like to speak to him directly as I have a special birthday message.
Son, there aren’t many of those milestone birthdays left. We have seen your first, your sixth preparing you for school, and getting into double digits. Those were all big days, but this one, well, let’s be honest, this is the one that marks your growth out of boyhood to being a young man, making this truly a landmark in your life.
Here is where the world truly begins to change and you will see for yourself what growing up means, maturing and all of that.
Sorry, son, I almost wrote all of that with a straight face but I don’t think I can do it.
The fact is, as much as your older brother Nathan is like me, you take the cake. When we are in some social situations or mingling with others, I hear the words that come out of your mouth and I swear it is like listening to a tape recording. Most who know me probably flinched when they read that but there is something to be said for forgoing political correctness and speaking the truth.
There are times, especially now at this age, when I look at you and it is like looking in a mirror and not just because we share a striking resemblance. Your sense of humor, your lighthearted demeanor, and your ability to walk into a room and fit in, with proper manners and bearing, is beyond your years.
Believe it or not, I watch you as most parents watch their children at times with a wonder at how you could be here and how it is I was so lucky to be here with you. Yes, we as parents are sometimes amazed how well our children turn out despite our screw-ups.
With your transition into being a young man, I want to share some fatherly advice with you, and as I always say, “It’s free, so it’s worth what you paid for it.”
Never, ever forget your value as a person is not dependent upon what others think. Always be you.
Don’t forget where the sweetest fruit grows, away from the tree, so never forget going out on a limb is not always a bad thing. You were not born to pay bills and die, live and live with fire and passion.
Never forget what it’s like to dream of doing great things as it is impossible to achieve anything you cannot visualize. See where you want to go and be determined.
In the end, the day is coming when you will be responsible for your life and ALL of your decisions so never forget it’s your life to live. Living to please others may make them happy but in the end it will be you who pays the price.
Never forget the people who are always there for you, through good and bad. There are plenty of people who will claim to be your friend in fair weather and leave when a storm begins to set in. Remember and never forget the difference between the two.
Having a tender heart and compassion for others is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength to find a place in your heart big enough for the world.
No matter how bad you think things are going for you there is always someone who has it worse. If you want to have a better perspective of your own life, make sure to be involved in the lives of others. There is a great deal to be learned.
Always live up to your word because when it is all said and done, your name is all you have no matter what your bank account or business card says.
The list could go on and on but I think this encompasses what is most important at this point, except for the one piece of advice I will share in closing. As always, you aren’t required to live by any of the advice I share, that is a decision you will make and based on who you have been to this point, you will choose wisely I know.
So, as a final word for you during what has obviously been a big occasion for you — you only counted down the days for the last six months — I will leave you with this:
Growing up is overrated and should be avoided at all costs. That is not to say you shouldn’t be an adult and responsible, just never forget what kind of magic the world held. It is within the dreams of your youth you will find your passions and is the origin of your happiness as you age. Hold onto magic, dreams, and the belief — it is a fact, by the way — that anything you can dream or imagine is a possibility if you are willing to be persistent and consistent.
The world is yours. Don’t give it away.
D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress and The Pickens Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.