When I think how much easier my life might have been if I’d actually listened to the wise adults who were trying to guide me…
But young ears just don’t hear properly. Or maybe the trouble is that older, wiser minds don’t know how to phrase the advice in order to make it understood.
As a parent, I’m certainly guilty of that. When my kids were little, and I caught them pulling risky stunts on the trampoline, or the diving board, or their roller blades, my heartfelt cry was always, “Stop that! Do you want to end up like Christopher Reeve?”
See, I thought this warning was quite powerful, timely and very relevant to their world. After all, if Superman could end up paralyzed, what could happen to these lowly mortal children? Problem was, my son says he had no idea who Christopher Reeve was. So he just ignored me, assuming I was a little obsessed with the guy.
As a child, I was equally ungrateful. My grandmother’s favorite advice was, “Whatever you dread most, do that first.” It applied to eating your vegetables, or doing your homework, or cleaning your room. Whatever was going to hang over you like a cloud, just do it and let the sun shine through.
I thought she was a little batty and horribly square. Do the WORST thing first? Why on earth would I? What about “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”? What about “Life is short, so eat dessert first”?
But, as we all know, we almost never do die tomorrow, and the dreaded thing still hangs over us, needing to be done. Finally, somewhere in middle age, I realized how wise my grandmother was. And now I always do the nastiest chore on my list first. If I didn’t, I could never write. It unclutters my mind so that I go into my fictional world with a guilt-free conscience—and the rest of the day feels like a party!
How about you? What was the best advice you were ever given? Did you take it? Did you know how good it was at the time?