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Happy 17th Birthday Nick: Here’s some advice for the year ahead.

Dear Nick,

I can’t believe you’re 17. We old-timers like to say time flies. Well, this last year has certainly flown and frankly it scares the sh*t out of me. That’s probably one of the many reasons you find me even more annoying as you get older.

Side note: My 17 year-old self would argue that my parents were significantly more annoying than I am, so count your blessings.

Anyway, last year you patiently read the advice I had for you on your 16th birthday. I’ll keep it short this year. I’m sure you have things to do.

Anyway, try to keep the following in mind. Who knows? It may even give you a peek behind the Dad mirror.

  1. I’m still not used to the idea of you driving. It’s not you — it’s me. Well that and the other drivers. It wasn’t too long ago that I was helping you tie your shoes so forgive me if the idea of you driving unnerves me.
  2. You’ll be leaving sooner than I’d like. I love hanging out together and before long our house will be a lot quieter. I’m excited for you, but at the same time I tear up thinking about it.
  3. I talk about brushing your teeth, making your bed, and all the other bothersome things I do because those “little” things make a big difference. I guess I want you to have nice teeth and a clean room when you’re on your own. You’ll thank me later.
  4. I talk about college not because my sole desire is to annoy you or that I want you to decide what to do with the rest of your life before your senior year in high school. I just want you to think about it. Ruling out what you don’t want is as important as deciding what you do want because you’re making a decision. Doing so relieves a lot of stress and I promise that makes life easier.
  5. When it comes to school and a career remember you’re not locked into anything for life; it’s ok to change your mind. Think about what you love and if you work hard you’ll find a way to make a living at it. Despite how it may feel you have time. I’m sure there are people you go to school with who have everything figured out. Let me repeat. There’s time. This is one of the most carefree periods in your life. You have more than enough time to be an adult — enjoy these last two summers as a kid because you can’t go back.
  6. I don’t want to limit your freedom — I want you to continue to assert your independence. There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, I’d be worried if you weren’t. Having said that, continue to use your manners and make good choices. Teens and obnoxious are a bad combination — you’re not one of them so let’s keep it that way.
  7. Finally, I know we talk about it a lot but remember that the choices you make now can impact your life forever. Enjoy the ride, but don’t be a knucklehead.

As you get ready for this new phase I’m reminded of the old Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Simple Man”. I know you’ve heard it. Anyway, if you take nothing else from it remember:

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love
And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”

Embrace the good times. Remember the bad ones will pass. Be a loving person and let your faith guide you.

Most importantly I want you to remember this: I couldn’t be more proud of you and the young man you’ve become. You’re kind, empathetic, funny, a joy to be around, and you’re much better at this than I was. You will do great things and I’m excited for you and the adventures that lie ahead.

Happy Birthday Nick. I love you.

Love,

Dad

P.S. I’m sure you’re not, but it’s ok if you’re secretly a little stressed about moving out — things have a funny way of arriving faster than we think. As excited as you are to get out (and I’m excited for you) it’s also a big change. Always, always remember you have a home, a safe place with a door that’s always open. I’ll be cheering for you and I’m here if you need me.

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