Back to school

I haven’t gone to school in ages, but I still love fall. I love the promise in the air. Last year, I went to my stepson’s back-to-school night. I got so excited during his English teacher’s presentation that my husband yanked my hand down when I went to answer a question directed at the kids.

Yeah, that really happened.

When I look back, there are a lot of things I wish I knew when I was younger. So here’s a list. If you have any thoughts you’d like to add, please do so in comments, and I’ll do a new post to include all your suggestions.

1) Most girls don’t keep secrets.

We don’t. We’re selective with who we tell, but we don’t keep secrets. We tell our moms. Or our husbands. Or our sisters. We tell someone. Truth is too heavy to bear alone. We tell.

2) Most guys do.

3) Pizza cutters are badass.

Really. I use a pizza cutter to slice pancakes for Nick. Or to cut sandwiches in half. To slice quesadillas. Brownies in a pan. If you reach for a knife to cut something, there’s a good chance a pizza cutter will do it better.

4) If someone wants to go faster than you on the highway, let them.

It’s okay. Really.

5) Carry wipes.

Even if you don’t have kids.

6) Flirt.

With everyone. (Wait. Except people with conditions.) Flirting is all about acting interested in someone and doing something to elicit a smile. Even if you’re not looking for a relationship, flirting with people will get you miles ahead of anyone else. You should have seen the lightning quick service I got out of the surly deli worker at Wegman’s last week. I joked that people working alone should get paid double, since they’re doing the work of two people. That got a small smile. Then I smiled back and said I wanted to make my order as easy as possible, because I wasn’t one of those freaks who asks for perfectly round tomatoes or exactly six leaves of lettuce. That got a bigger smile, and an offer of extra cheese.

And that was a woman.

7) Don’t take flirting too far.

I used to know this guy I called “The Talking Puppy.” I flirted mercilessly, knowing he actually had intentions towards me. I had none towards him. But he worked two floors above me, and he had access to all kinds of free candy and sodas. If I didn’t have money for lunch, I’d ask if he wanted to join me, knowing he’d offer to buy. I was perfectly nice to him, and we always had a nice time. But really, I was being inordinately cruel by stringing him along. A little innocent flirting is fine. It makes people smile. Too much flirting strings people along and makes them bitter. Don’t do it.

8) Say please, thank you, and always wish someone a nice day.

Basically, don’t forget that other people matter.

9) You can never have too many nail files.

10) Don’t hold the door for a toddler, unless there’s a parent attached.

Fight the urge. Fight it.

11) Slow down and think.

No matter what you’re doing. A few extra seconds never killed anybody.

12) Don’t email while drunk, tired, or angry.

Probably best not to call either.

13) Never miss a chance to tell people you love them.

14) If you’re feeling jealous, stop wasting time resenting the other person.

What good is that going to do? Look at what you can do to make yourself better. One of my favorite gym instructors has a great saying: “Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were better.”

15) Take care of yourself.

A bar of soap and a hairbrush work wonders.

16) Listen to your gut.

Right after I turned 18, I went to see a movie by myself. On the way home, I drove past the turn for my street, thinking I’d just go for a drive and listen to some music. (This was before gas cost more than $1 a gallon.) As soon as I missed the turnoff for my house, I had this terrible, nagging feeling that I needed to go home. I couldn’t shake it. I decided I’d go until that song was done and turn around.

I didn’t get the chance. My car was totaled at the next intersection. The firemen had to cut me out of the car.

17) Listen to your mom.

She’s right. You may not know it now, but she is.

18) Procrastinate wisely.

Learn where you can fake it — and learn where you can’t.

19) Don’t let one teacher’s poorly timed comment throw you off track.

I was a college freshman, on a free ride to University of Maryland. I had a double major of Math and Psychology. I loved Psych. I went to the professor’s office after the first week and said, “I love psychology, and I’d love to do as much as I can to get ahead in this field. Do you have any recommendations for extra work I could be doing?”

She said, “Yeah. You should be happy with what you get in my class, and stop wasting my time.”

I dropped her class. I dropped my major. Now I work in finance.

And I regret dropping psych at least once a week. (Sarah J. Maas has a great post about this.)

20) Always make sure someone knows where you are.

It doesn’t have to be your parents. (Hey, I was a kid once, too.) But someone.

Here are some great additions from the comments:

21) Never break two laws at once. (From Max)
“Teenagers are going to break laws, and I don’t believe ‘Just Say No’ works. But I stayed out of a lot of trouble in high school because of this wisdom from my dad.”

Thanks, Max! I love that!

22) My mother always said to never date a guy who was prettier than me. (From Lisa B)
I thought it was stupid at the time but both times I fell for the pretty boy I ended up with a broken heart.

That’s absolutely true! (And that kind of goes along with #17: Listen to your mom!!) Thanks for sharing!

23) As for advice, I like that old song, “The Gambler.” (from A Paperback Writer)
Seriously, that line about “you never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table” is a winner. You also should never count your money in the open when leaving a bank or an ATM. And you should never brag in school about how much money you’ve got with you.
One I like to tell kids is “If you go looking for trouble, you’ll probably find it.”

Very good advice.

24) Also don’t drive fast when it’s raining (duh I know but they do) (From Nicole MacDonald)
You are sheltered and safe in your car and in the event you do get wet, trust me – you won’t melt.

Good call!

25) I wish men wouldn’t assume that cause I’m smiling I want to do the dirty – it AIN’T HAPPENING!! (Also from Nicole)

I hear you there, sister!

26) Offer your seat on the metro to someone else who may need it more than you. (From Kathy Fusto)
Pregnant, older, sick or just flippin tired. Don’t ask, just get up and tell that person there is a seat available. As long as you are not handicapped and can stand, remember there are so many people who definitely need to sit down for a few stops.

Absolutely!!

Okay, I know there are more out there. Whattaya got?

10 thoughts on “Back to school

  1. Never break two laws at once.
    Teenagers are going to break laws, and I don’t believe “Just Say No.” works. But I stayed out of a lot of trouble in high school because of this wisdom from my dad.

  2. My mother always said to never date a guy who was prettier than me. I thought it was stupid at the time but both times I fell for the pretty boy I ended up with a broken heart.

  3. Hmmm… about #2: it may be true with adult guys, but it’s not currently true in junior high with boys. If telling a secret will make the boy look cooler as the first one to know/rat/post it on facebook, he will tell. Yes, he will tell.
    This is how we solve most of our who-set-the-towel-rack-on-fire or who-is-peeing-on-the-ceiling problems with the boys’ restrooms at school.

    As for advice, I like that old song, “The Gambler.” Seriously, that line about “you never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table” is a winner. You also should never count your money in the open when leaving a bank or an ATM. And you should never brag in school about how much money you’ve got with you.
    One I like to tell kids is “If you go looking for trouble, you’ll probably find it.”

  4. The driving ones are VERY true – if only we could make all kiwi males realise this *sigh*

    Also don’t drive fast when it’s raining (duh I know but they do) you are sheltered and safe in your car and in the event you do get wet, trust me – you won’t melt.

    And I’m really friendly to everyone (born a Leo in year of dog – super friendly critter) and I wish men wouldn’t assume that cause I’m smiling I want to do the dirty – it AIN’T HAPPENING!!

    http://damselinadirtydress.blogspot.com

  5. I’m late, but I got one:
    Tell people nice (true) things. People you know, people you don’t. Complimenting people (in a not creepy way) on the fly, when passing them in the street or running into them in a cafe is such a lovely thing to do. Say something nice about what someone you don’t know is wearing, or her hair, or his glasses. Tell someone at a wedding they’re a great dancer. Give out a couple compliments a day and watch people’s confusion turn into happiness and gratitude and you’ll be hooked.

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