10 Pieces of Advice for My 11 Year-Old Son

Dear Gabriel,

Welcome to 11 and your pre-teen years! This is the impressionable time when the world comes into sharper focus, when your character (and body) begins to mold from child to teen. It’s also the year when you’ll graduate from elementary to middle school. When you’ll go to sleep-away camp for the first time, take formal art classes at an art museum, and stay home alone more. (It won’t be the year when you get a phone, sorry.)

There’s so much to look forward to in the 12 months ahead, and your papa and I will be here for you every step of the way. But, knowing that your desire to let us physically hold your hand is waning every day, we want to share the following advice to help steer you through the year ahead.

  1. Be yourself:You are the one and only ever you,” says one of my favorite books On The Night You Were Born. There will be days when you will feel down or when criticism from teachers or your peers might make you doubt yourself. But know that you are special, an individual, and hold your head high.
  2. Slow down: Your default mode is fast! Please try to pace yourself so that you can savor all the good times that are coming your way. (Related: don’t race though your homework, please take the time to review and check your work!)
  3. Be kind everyday: You never know how someone else is feeling. Be quick to offer to help, or to listen. Know that your smile or a few words of encouragement can make someone’s day.
  4. Ask questions: Lots of them. Always be curious. There are so many resources to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and even spark new interests.
  5. Be a good friend: Friendship is so much more than a playdate or being in each other’s Minecraft worlds. It means being there for your friends in good times and bad. Listening to them. Sharing with them. Making their needs your priority.
  6. Pursue your passions: While it’s important to try new things, knowing what excites and motivates you is important. Let it guide you.
  7. Try to make good choices (see #2): You already know right from wrong. But silliness, peer pressure and hormones can cloud any pre-teen’s judgement. You are a good, smart kid — so, please, use your head.
  8. Make mistakes: Yes you read that right. We’re going to let you make lots of them. It’s going to suck. But it’s one of the best ways to learn.
  9. Be grateful: Remember that you are extremely fortunate. Don’t take it for granted.
  10. Be satisfied with what you have (see #9): More doesn’t always mean better.

Happy 11th birthday Gabriel – we love you!

Mama and papa

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Advice to My 16-Year Old Self

This morning, a tweet from MumClub asking “what would you tell your 16-year old self?” got me thinking. Often I can tweet a quick, snappy response but this I needed to mull over. So I stepped into the shower, and ideas kept popping into my head. Thanks to my waterproof Post-It notes, I wrote down the following advice to Samantha Stern:

  • Keep working on your writing and languages—they will be the foundation of your success
  • There is so much more than Duran Duran
  • You are not fat
  • Dating/kissing boys that are not Jewish will not be the end of the world
  • Friendships trump religious differences
  • Invest in your friends—you’re going to need them
  • Gary Morris may break your heart but there are lots of fish in the see—explore 😉
  • Red heads have more fun
  • Keep dancing
  • Go on blind dates (the last one will be the best one)
  • You are in charge of your future
  • Mum and Dad were right about many things (but not about only kissing/dating Jewish boys)
  • Find your own style
  • Keep traveling
  • Bacon is not evil
  • In two years, Mum and Dad will take you to see Les Miserables. It will change everything.
  • Try sushi: you’ll like it!

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