Things I Want My Children To Know

#1 Weekend mornings will never be as good as the weekend mornings when you’re seven years old and you sit in front of the TV watching cartoons until noon.

#2 Make the most of every single day that you’re still small enough to crawl onto one of your parents’ laps for a cuddle. There will come a day when that’s no longer physically possible, and every cuddle after that will be slightly inferior as a result.

#3 Totally eat a balanced and healthy diet. But also make the most of the fact you still have a metabolism which allows you to eat half a packet of biscuits, and dessert, and a second dessert…and have the calories burnt off by the time you get down from the table. Because that shit doesn’t last.

#4 School grades are important. But there are other things that are even more important. Kindness. Compassion. Love. No one is going to remember you for the number of your SATS score. They will, on the other hand, remember you if you changed their life through kindness, compassion and love.

#5 Believe it or not, there does actually come a day when you will stop grazing your knees on a daily basis. Hang on in there.

#6 Read, read, read, read some more, and then read some more again. It is hard to ever truly feel lonely when you have books.

#7 All that stuff you are worrying about now? You really don’t need to. Promise. In a few short years it will be but a distant memory. (To be replaced by a load of even more worrying stuff, because being a grown up is at times pretty rubbish.)

#8 On that subject: don’t wish your life away. There isn’t an adult out there who doesn’t occasionally wish themselves back to being thirteen again, sitting in their bedroom on a Sunday night, listening to the charts, back when listening to the charts was still actually a thing and new music wasn’t universally terrible. (Although, you know, we did have such delights as Simply Red and Fairground, so let’s not feel too envious of us.)

#9 Make the most of every single second of your friendships. The film Stand By Me has it right. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” No. No, they don’t.

#10 Contrary to popular belief, having your hair washed has never yet actually killed anyone.

#11 Don’t con yourself into thinking that grown ups know it all. We’re still ten years old inside and totally winging it. Terrifying, huh?

#12 Revel in going to birthday parties where every single person loves every single second of being there, and, as the birthday boy or girl, you don’t have to spend the entire time panicking whether people are going to turn up, and whether they’re having a nice time, and whether you bought enough ice and serviettes.

#13 Stay up late. Sleep in for half the morning. At some point in your life you’ll start getting Actual Responsibilities, after which point you’ll never entirely regain your ability to sleep in until noon. It’s extremely disappointing.

#14 You might hate school, but it’s the only time in your life when you’re going to have an entire set of people whose sole responsibility is to help you to learn; to improve; to be better. Make the most of it.

#15 No, unless you become a professor of linguistics, being able to identify a fronted adverbial will never actually be a necessary life skill.

#16 Those moments when the sun is shining, you are out with your friends, you have no responsibilities and you feel like you rule the world? Hang onto those moments and never, ever, let them go.

#17 You are so beautiful.

#18 It is actually possible to brush your teeth, do your hair, and put on your shoes, without first being asked seventy two times. Who knew, eh?

#19 Make the most of the incredible toys and games you get for your birthdays and Christmas. At some point that shit is going to end and people are going to start buying you kitchen utensils and gardening tools instead. Even worse: you’ll be actually quite pleased with them. I know. I know.

#20 Tell the people you love that you love them. Every single day. Life is short. Don’t take it for granted.

#21 When your parents tell you that you won’t be in trouble “if you just tell the truth”… sometimes this is a lie.

#22 No one will simultaneously adore you and abhor you like a sibling.

#23 There will come a day when you stop getting your back rubbed and your hair held back when you throw up. It’s shit.

#24 You can do absolutely anything you put your mind to…but you’ll have to work bloody hard for it.

#25 The way the kitchen gets tidied, and your clothes get washed, and there’s always milk in the fridge? You don’t have house elves. That’s your parents. As you’ll find out when you leave home and all of a sudden all of that doesn’t happen, and you’ll wonder quite what went wrong.

#26 You are loved. Oh, you are so loved.

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