Son, one day you will grow up. I am quite sure of that. You can't fight it. It is written in your genes. I can't tell you that it will always be fun. Culture aside, growing up can be a shocker. But I am sure you will grow graciously into it. I have three shockers for you here.
The first is that you will realize things are not always what they seem. This is normal. It's called reality check. This is where your bubbled world gets deflated a little. The first casualty of this is your parents. You will come to know how flawed they are. It will dawn on you that adults are always hiding something. They will tell you one thing and seldom mean it completely. They will say they are okay but they seldom are. They will tell you to do the right thing always but always is not always for them.
You will notice the contradiction in their voices and actions. On a good day, they will be trumpeting virtues at the mountain top. And on a bad day, they will be burying them in the valley and manifesting just the opposite. It is still all about doing what they say and not what they do. You will hear them gossiping about people, arguing about the most trivial things, venting their anger at you when they are really pissed at another, and demanding that you forgive your sister when they can't even bury their own hatchet. Somehow they expect you to live in a black-and-white world while theirs is monochromatically challenged.
Mind you, don't take it as them being hypocritical parents. Suspend that melodramatic judgment please. Your time will come with bow-tie and all. One day, the boot will be on the other foot when you become parent with growing up children of your own. All their imperfections are coming into sharper focus because your understanding of the world around you is expanding. And your parents can no longer camouflage their flaws behind the advice of parents-know-best anymore. As their kid, please see it as they are just doing their best to be a human being. And it is not easy, trust me. There are just too many factors conspiring to turn a good parent into an edgy one.
This brings me to the second shocker as you grow up. You will realize that your parents have this tendency to embarrass you more often than usual. To you, they will appear more naggy, uncool, old-fashion, in-your-face, paranoid and less fun. Somehow, you need more social oxygen with friends your age and time alone by yourself. You need your privacy to explore and discover, and your parents can sometimes be that irritating smiley purple dinosaur you once adored that now grates at your adolescent nerves.
But don't get ahead of yourself please. You are still living under their roof and under their rules. So, growing up is also about responsibility and respect. Most kids like you forget about that at your growing's expense. And they are not the cost of growing up mind you. They are in fact the privilege. Learning respect and responsibility make you a better person, a lovelier human being. You don't learn that in school. You learn that by treasuring your relationship with your parents first, your primary caregiver.
Please son, I am not self-advertising here with an agenda. I am telling you as it is. The truth is, no one loves you more than your parents. You are here because of them. They may act like dumbbells sometimes, self-contradicting and inconsistent, but their love for you is what keeps them and you going. It is as real as it gets in this world. Ultimately, when the rubber meets the road, you are their first priority. Your joy is their joy and your pain is their pain.
So, wise up fast and reciprocate with less of that attitude and more of that gratitude. By respecting them, you are learning an invaluable lesson of taking responsibility for your life. You are paying forward in humility and love and if you thrive on that, you will thrive on all other relationships, be it marriage, parenthood or friendship.
Here's the last shocker about growing up. This has to do with you and the world around you. You will come to an age where you will start to question everything, or almost everything. You will start to think for yourself. This will be the blooming of experience, discernment and wisdom. And believe you me, your maturity depends on them. I call it the age of reflection, meditation and inflection.
You will also learn through mistakes. And mistakes will be your buddy for life. You will piss people off, you will get angry with yourself, you will regret your words and deeds, you will be bullied and you will bully, you will feel small, you will be arrogant, even feel invulnerable, and you will be disillusioned and disappointed. In your own pace, you will learn it all with some stumbles and fall.
Son, growing up is a time for you to take responsibility, be accountable, and be humble (knows your roots). I will be there for you but only you can enter the ring of life and tough it out yourself. You will hear my voice and encouragement from the ring side and I will consistently remind you that when you wrestle a gorilla, you don't quit when you are tired. The gorilla is not going to offer you a kit-kat moment.
Life's challenges may be relentless and you don't give up the good fight just because the going gets tough. This is where you get a foretaste of what the complicated adult world is all about. Again, it is not going to be smooth sailing all the time. You will also understand to some extent why we do and act the way we do. But then I am revealing too much. I will let you cross the bridge when you reach there. Some experiences are just better served hot.
In the meantime, and for all time, enjoy life. Don't take things too seriously. Live it up. Be present in the present. And practise selective memory, that is, remember the good times more than the bad. Sometimes happiness is about having the right kind of amnesia. Don't forget to be the best that you can be too.
And lastly, never put too much premium on material success. They are seldom what life's brochure has made it up to be. There is more false advertising there than a fancy label on a moonshine bottle. And don't underestimate the failures. They are there for your growth. Painful as they might seem, they ultimately bootstrap you up for greater things to come.
That's about all I have to say about growing up son. And if you make the most of it, you will make the most of living a life you and your children can be proud of. Cheerz.
* Image from the guardian.com