This week's message to my girls is from one of best friends and ex-News Ltd colleague of mine, Vivienne Oakley. My husband and I call her Vuv, because she is a Kiwi. The kids call her Aunty Viv. Her Mum is like our girls' surrogate Gran who sends care packages with homemade knitted jumpers and toys. Viv has a big heart, is a fiercely loyal friend and an AMAZING media professional. If my girls are anything like her I will be happy.
Now, I’m not a blogger and I’m not a mother … but I was a tricky teen. And Bianca's blog got me thinking (as it often does). What messages would I have listened to? What would have helped? Was there anything that would have eased those years? For me, or for my poor mother …
Part of me suspects not. Part of me suspects I was so lost in my own head and my own angst that not much would have helped. But I’ve never been short on advice … so here goes with my dirty dozen (in no particular order!).
1. Learn a language. Any one will do. It is good for your brain, and good for your confidence. And while I’m on the topic – travel. Domestic or international. Weekends, or years. Meet strangers, do new things, see new things, eat new things. But only hitchhike with a friend.
2. Learn to touch type. I was horrified at my mother making me do this (“I’m not going to be a secretary”) yet it has made keyboard work much easier for my whole working career and kept RSI at bay. You will know how to type with two fingers already, but using all 10 fingers and thumbs works much better.
3. Get your head around the fact that many, many body shapes are “normal”. You may not look like your sisters or your friends, but your body is still normal. It may even be in the best shape of your life – yes, it may all be downhill from here, so eat well, try to be a bit fit and try to be kind to yourself in your head.
4. Don’t give away your virginity to some boy you’ve only know weeks or hours. It’s worth more than that and so are you. It’s not the end of the world if you make a bad choice, but it’s nice if you can look back on the “who” with a degree of fondness in the years to come – you probably won’t feel that fond of the first-time sex itself. And speaking of bad choices, use condoms every time – if it’s not on, it’s not on.
5. Pick good friends. If they are tearing you down they are not good friends.
6. Read stuff. Lots of stuff. About all sorts of things. You don’t have to like or agree with it, but it will add to you in ways you will only understand later in life.
7. Be careful with drugs. Idiots make them. And they affect everyone differently. Alcohol is equally dangerous – watch out for your friends and hopefully they will watch out for you. Never abandon a drunk friend at a party or in a club. Never.
8. Try not to be completely hateful to your parents and sisters – they will be with you for a long, long time to come. If you are lucky there will be a grandparent, an aunt, a family friend or a godparent who will also be there just for you. To listen to you. To give you some safety, security, advice and help along the way.
9. Trust your parents. They might blow up about things, but they will calm down. They were young once and they do love you.
10. Find a hobby and let yourself enjoy it no matter how nerdy, off-beat or random it may seem to your friends and family. Knit, collect stamps, run marathons, write computer programs for fun, bake scones – do something just for you because you like it.
11. Ask for help. You can’t do it all alone. And you shouldn’t try.
12. Laugh. Often. It’s good for you. It may not cure cancer, but it won’t cause it either.
I mostly hope you grow up to be as loving, giving and kind as your parents and that you have the generosity of spirit to be a positive force in the lives of those you love. I also hope that you are healthy and well. (oh, and that we haven’t screwed the world up too badly.)
Lots of Love