Parents have 18 years to teach you how to survive on your own, teenagers. By now, you should be able to speak, walk, use the restroom, wipe yourself, and practice good hygiene.
You can put yourself to bed and take naps when you’re tired. You can most likely drive, earn a paycheck, and shop on your own.
You probably have a group of friends you like to hang out with. You may snuggle and kiss on a boyfriend or girlfriend with Doritos breath. You may do more than kiss. You probably own a Snapchat account.
Lord knows you’re not on Facebook. Your grandma is on Facebook.
We were all teenagers once. At some point, every adult you see in the “real world” flew the nest.
We spread our arms in complete freedom as we jumped into the lake completely naked in the summer of 2000. Yes, even your parents – they hugged and kissed and played hooky on those last days of school. Did your mom skinny dip, too? Maybe. I don’t know.
I’m not your parent.
This is real advice for teenagers. What do your parents know about your generation? Nothing.
My parents sure don’t. I don’t care what you do with your life. I mean, I care, but I don’t care like your mom and dad care. What you choose to do after high school is up to you – college, technical school, work, military, sitting in your parent’s basement filming your YouTube show. I’m sure you’ll learn great things from any of those paths.
Life has a way of teaching you, well, life. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. Here is some life advice for teenagers, told by not-your-mom.
Don’t be so hard on your body when you’re young.
Your joints, your back, your muscles, your skin especially – they remember and they will fail you when you’re 37. Exactly that age – 37. Shit starts falling apart.
I’m not a doctor but shit will fall apart sooner the harder you are on your young body. This brings me to my next point – wear sunscreen. Avoid the sun all year, if you can. Your middle-aged face and body will thank you.
Putting wrinkles and lizard-skin aside – melanoma is the one of the few cancers you can prevent at a high success rate. Cancer should scare you at any age.
The book is better than the movie. Read.
Jenny Gump didn’t die of AIDS in the book. She didn’t die at all. Please tell me you’ve seen Forrest Gump.
Learn the difference between your and you’re; there, their, and they’re; and too, to, and two.
That’s it. That’s all you need to know to appear educated. I lied. One more thing about appearing educated –
Learn how to do your taxes and, for the love of retirement, learn how to save.
There it is. Math. Teenagers probably aren’t thinking they will need math, but trust me – you will need to set money aside in every paycheck. Life is unpredictable and expensive. You will have calculators and spreadsheets for your use.
Use your spreadsheets well, my little cricket. I think I read crickets are wise. Or maybe they’re smart. I’ll google crickets later. Entry-level jobs or marriage will not make you rich so don’t spend like you are.
Pay off credit cards every month. Do you know what an APR is? It’s eating Ramen noodles with a Taco Bell sauce packet mixed in. Learn banking and credit card terms.
If you get in the ocean, go completely underwater.
It’s a happiness that touches every age. Even teenagers. Hopefully, your parents taught you how to swim.
If you can, tip well.
Maybe they’re having a bad day.
Eat and exercise like you have heart disease and diabetes.
Because you will if you don’t exercise and eat healthy. This one is not fun, I know. But, it’s necessary and maybe, just maybe, it will become fun.
The trick to exercise is finding a workout you enjoy. Be smart about food. What is considered a “healthy diet” seems to change with every generation so I can’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat.
I can tell you every generation will agree to drop the Doritos.
People will think what they want to think about you.
Moisturize your face every night.
I got a manicure a couple weekends ago – I have a point, hear me out – and the lady doing my nails asked if I was married. I laughed because I knew what she was doing – she wanted to know my age.
She asked if I had kids. She asked how old my kids are. She dropped her mouth and my hand when I said 12 and nine.
And I was I like, hell yes. I moisturize. This may sound like female advice. It is but it’s for men, too. You men wouldn’t look so damn old next to your wedding pictures if you moisturized.
You can cuss a little.
Bitch, motherfucker, Goddammit – it’s ok. No one gives a shit. Your mom’s not here.
See your dentist every six months.
The older you get, the more you will thank me for this piece of advice. The hygienist will always lecture you about flossing and brushing better. It’s their job. Say you’ll try and show up six months later for your next lecture.
Have children when you’re in your 20s.
Babies and toddlers will suck your soul. Get it over with while you’re still fertile. Have children when you’re in your 30s. Babies and toddlers will suck your soul. Enjoy your own youth before you take over someone else’s. I don’t know the real answer this – other than babies and toddlers will suck your soul at any age. Whatever you decide, practice birth control as teenagers. Please.
Karma is real.
Be kind. To everyone. Even annoying fellow teenagers.
A gravesite can be strangely comforting.
You might be too young to start having loved ones pass away. They will pass. They will pass away young or old. Sick or healthy. I don’t have words to prepare you for heartache but a therapist or a good friend is worth talking to. Take their spirit with you in life.
Listen here and listen well – you don’t need to separate anything. Never add a brand new red shirt to a load with light colored clothing. Read clothing labels, especially sweaters, you’ll probably have to hang to dry those.
You will feel a strange satisfaction about opening a dryer full of towels. That’s all you need to know about laundry.
Also – I googled it. Crickets are a symbol of luck because their chirp reminds us to be happy.
Spread your wings, little cricket. And your mom totally skinny dipped.