74 Things I want to tell my son


This list is a little presumptuous. I don’t have kids. I’m not married. But, I hope to have kids one day. And if I were to have a son, these are things I’d want him to hear from me. This being the internet, someone will inevitably think that this list is too this or not enough that. That’s all right; he’ll be my kid, not yours.

  1. No one else gets to tell you what makes you a man.
  2. You’re worth more than your bank account.
  3. Any woman who can’t see that isn’t worth your time.
  4. Buy the best suit you can afford.
  5. Take care of it: brush it, hang it up, dry clean it only when you absolutely have to.
  6. Eat dinner out by yourself sometimes.
  7. Polish your shoes. I’ll teach you.
  8. Iron your shirt. I’ll try to teach you.
  9. Have a hobby. Anything. Hunt. Fish. Collect stamps.
  10. Learn a little bit about everything.
  11. Learn everything about something.
  12. Drink your coffee black.
  13. Or load it with cream and sugar. Who cares. It’s your coffee.
  14. Ask her out. There’s no such thing as out of your league.
  15. If she says no, shake it off.
  16. Unless she’s really something, then ask her again.
  17. Give. Save. Then live off the rest.
  18. Leave town for the weekend. With friends when possible. Alone when necessary.
  19. Keep up with people who mean something to you. If you don’t, you’ll regret few things less.
  20. No lady should be standing while you’re sitting: give her your seat.
  21. Swearing in public is rude. And it shows you’re not smart enough to express yourself otherwise.
  22. But sometimes swearing is the only way to express yourself.
  23. Learn to cook breakfast and at least one pasta dish really well.
  24. Vote.
  25. Don’t ever vote for a candidate you know nothing about.
  26. When you travel outside of our country, be a good ambassador. You represent all of us.
  27. Be ready to back up your opinions. They will be challenged.
  28. Say ‘Thank you.’
  29. Pay your bills when they’re due.
  30. If you borrow something from someone, give it back in better shape than you received it, the minute you no longer need it.
  31. Otherwise you owe them a new one.
  32. Ask her father for permission.
  33. Then propose like it means something.
  34. Don’t ever read the comments section.
  35. The road is for driving. Not for showing off.
  36. Don’t talk trash during sports. Everyone hates that guy, including his teammates.
  37. If you ever cheer for the Mets I’ll legally disown you.
  38. There’s no shame in down time. In America we feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. Work, and work tirelessly, when you’re at work. When you’re not, don’t.
  39. Multivitamins are a waste of money. Just eat fruits and vegetables.
  40. Wear sunscreen.
  41. If you don’t know something, look it up for yourself.
  42. There’s no honor in saying you’ve read or seen books or movies that you haven’t.
  43. When the wanderlust takes you, don’t forget about your own country. There’s some pretty spectacular stuff right here.
  44. Find a drink you like and stand by it.
  45. Give jazz a chance.
  46. Righty-tighty. Left-loosey.
  47. Cut the grass. It’s cathartic.
  48. No shorter than 1″. A scalped lawn is a dead lawn.
  49. If at all possible, never pay someone to do something that you could do yourself.
  50. Read the newspaper. In whatever form it exists for you. Don’t skip the International sections.
  51. If you feel like crying, let it out.
  52. Only cry about things that matter.
  53. If you can’t pay your bills with what you make in the first two weeks of the month, you’re living above your means.
  54. Write Thank You notes when people do things for you. With a pen and paper.
  55. Do not Google your symptoms. Ever.
  56. If you’re ever dumb enough to get arrested, I’ll get you out. One time. Be prepared for my wrath.
  57. You will have your heart broken. And it will hurt. I’m sorry.
  58. You will break someone’s heart. That will hurt, too. I’m sorry.
  59. If you start losing your hair, own it. Cut it all off and move on.
  60. The first time you get a paycheck will be the last time I pay for your gas. Budget wisely.
  61. Don’t say you don’t like things that you haven’t tried.
  62. Don’t let the subjunctive tense of the English language die on your watch.
  63. Listen to your grandfather’s stories. When he’s not around anymore, you’ll wish you had.
  64. Work on your vocabulary. It will get you far.
  65. Have a favorite poet. I like Wendell Berry and Pablo Neruda.
  66. A pharmacy might be the worst place to buy anything except prescriptions. You’ll spend twice as much.
  67. Don’t ask your doctor for antibiotics every time you get the sniffles. It’s more than likely that you’ll get over it.
  68. Don’t go to work when you’re sick.
  69. If you hate your job, find a new one. Think it over first, but being miserable isn’t worth a paycheck.
  70. Don’t skip leg day.
  71. The most expensive isn’t always the best. In fact, it rarely is.
  72. Have a hero. I don’t recommend that you choose me. I know me too well.
  73. Read Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If.‘ It should cover anything I missed.
  74. I love you. No matter what.

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