Monday, June 7, 2010
ADVICE OR I DIDN'T ASK YOU
Advice is one of those things we all like to give and aren't always happy to get. The Guy is wise. He says advice is something you should seek from different people with diverse philosophies and consider when you make up your own mind.
When Babygirl was born to Oldest Friend twenty-six years ago, we did not know how to run a baby. That's why we thought we could have lunch at our favorite tea room and go shopping without incident. After all, that's what we'd always done and she was only a month old. That didn't turn out too well. There was a certain amount of screaming in the tearoom; they don't really like that in tearooms. When we moved on to the shopping, that was also difficult. We thought since she was so tiny, we could just carry her with no problem. She weighed no more than those huge oxblood Etienne Aigner pocketbooks we carried back then. That didn't go too well either. We ended up stopping to buy a stroller that would, no doubt, today be labeled a baby killing stroller. Yet, she survived the stroller (and us) to go on to be a productive member of society.
It was probably on that first outing that I decided it was my right—if not my duty—to advise Babygirl on all facets of her life. She was not always as enamored of what I had to say as I would have liked but she must have taken some of it to heart. When she was getting ready to leave for college, she said, "I want you to write down some of that stuff you've been saying to me all these years so I can take it out and read it."
Well, you can believe I jumped right on that. I was more than a little afraid of what might happen without me always on hand to order her around. I even purchased a nice handmade book with rice paper for this purpose and I left some pages blank for her to fill in with her own thoughts.
Fast forward. We graduated, got married, and are teaching school. (Not me precisely, but I feel I earned the right, along with Oldest Friend and The Guy, to use the word we.) When Babygirlfound out that Little Babygirl was on the way, she gave me the book back and said she needed some new wisdom.
It was interesting to look back on what I thought was important that she remember.
• Always applaud like a lady with one palm facing up and still. Never clap like a walrus, hands wide apart.
• Don’t wear white to a wedding, unless you are the bride, or black, unless you are a man.
• Marriage is an absolute. The question, "Are you married?" can only have one answer—yes or no. "Divorced" means no; "Not divorced yet" means yes. "Not divorced but she is (pick one) crazy, in a coma, cheating on me, tried to shoot me," still means yes and is probably a lie.
• Don't suffer the stupid. You will only end up being mean to them.
• When inside, take off your sunglasses when talking to someone.
• Do not mistake stubborn for strong in yourself or others.
• You cannot make yourself love someone just because he deserves to be loved but you can be kind about it.
• Moisturize your face after washing it, while it's still damp.
• Never mistake curiosity for interest. The curious will gossip about you. The interested will not.
• Don't throw away precious things; endeavor to know what is precious.
• Don't wear pearls and diamonds close together around your face unless they are incorporated in the same piece.
• "No thank you," is always an appropriate reply to any request that makes you uncomfortable whether it's an invitation for a drink, a beach trip, a party, or to someone's bed. "But thank you for asking," may not help them but it won't hurt you.
• Don't throw a fit in a restaurant where you might want to eat again or a store where you might want to shop again. It would be best not to throw a fit at all, but that may be too much to hope for, considering your strong female role models.
• When traveling and things are not going your way, remember you are getting to travel.
• Write formal correspondence with real ink.
• If you get good service, tip well. The person at the end of that tip has almost always had fewer advantages than you.
• You choose. At the end of the day, that's all you have left.
• You will hear people wax poetic about the magic of the ocean or the mountains and how they draw strength there. It's true for some, but many are only parroting someone else. You come from the river, red clay, and cotton fields. There's nothing magic about it but it's your heritage and not a second class one.
• Walk away from the disloyal. Do it quickly. If they have been disloyal to others but not you, it doesn't mean you have inspired a higher degree of loyalty. It means they haven't done it to you yet.
• Forgiveness is not saying something didn't happen or it didn't matter. It's just letting it go.
• Remember who you are out there. If you forget and make a wrong turn, remember where you can go.
Though Little Babygirl is almost two, I haven't written anything for her. Until recently, she hadn't displayed any behavior that I felt called for my input. But the terrible twos are looming, so it might be time to point out a few things to her.
• Don't climb on your pink wooden stove and throw your hair bows across the room. That's your stuff and you aren't doing it any good.
• Don't throw your new Kelly's Kids outfit in the trash. Again, your stuff.
• Don't bite me.
What's the best piece of advice you've gotten/given?