I had to wait a day to get my favorite birthday present. That was 20 years ago.
Camdyn’s two goals Saturday come in a close second. What kid can score on her dad’s birthday? It’s just Camdyn doing Camdyn things. Hayden’s done it, too. It’s kind of Babe Ruthian to go out and deliver on a day and on a dime.
Sunday, Madison turned 20.
She nearly shared my birthday, did you know that? If her mama’s contractions hadn’t stopped around the time M*A*S*H* comes on TV, this would be a different post. That was 20 years ago now. The girls are rolling through all the milestones, 12, 13, 16, 17, 20 …
To me, 20’s a big deal.
You can already vote and watch rated R movies. You’re a year from ordering beer. At 20, you’re a kid and grownup, in all the right ways. You can sling spirals at work and not fuss over a mortgage or being able to read the damned small print on your mortgage papers.
Paths, written in pencil
People expect you, though, to have a path.
Hell shit, I’m still looking for mine. I’d say it’s written in pencil, but even then, it’s been erased and rewritten so many times that the paper’s worn thin. Set, reset, set again. Maybe put the pencil down and just pay attention to where you are.
People will make assumptions and have expectations and call into play their own failures and success about where you should be at 20.
Screw ‘em. At 20, or 40 or 60, for that matter, I wouldn’t advise going around telling the general public to go screw itself. But, I’m your dad. In addition to putting brown sugar in your waffles, a job of mine as your dad is some advising.
Sometimes, it’s which barbecue sauce to get.
Other times, it’s things like, avoid leaving an egg salad sandwich in your car in July. Or, steer clear of buying things – anything – from someone who is out of breath. Drink a tall glass of water before you go to bed, and another one first thing in the morning.
While I’m at it …
It’s about the stride, not the goal
Write things in your calendar – and stick to them, even when you’d rather skip out and make cheesy scrambled eggs and watch The Office on the couch instead.
Let every course you take in school seep in a bit. You never know where your next hobby – or twist and turn in life – will come from.
Identify your strides, rather than concentrate on your goals. That means, know the things you do and ways you feel that make you so good at your job. Those things are deeper than athletic gear and cash registers. They’re totally transferrable to life.
Pause. Before reacting, before answering. It’ll keep you from having to explain yourself or, at worst, apologize later.
Also, it’s a great place to listen to your heart. It works, for when you choose to buy a car or a crunchy or soft taco. You’ll continually place yourself in conducive environments for the universe to unfurl happiness right into your lap like a fumbled plate of nachos.
Order your Subway toppings one by one. You’ll get more of each that way.
Don’t fool yourself into believing you own any part of the road besides the patch of asphalt on which your four tires sit. Let people in. Slow down. Don’t change lanes in a traffic jam. Go slow in the roundabout so other people can get in, too.
Serving sizes and shit like that
Will power is so important. Grab a handful of chips. Don’t eat them out of the bag. If you’re on Instagram long enough to have two meals or pee twice, you’re on it too long. Stretch. Toss a ball. Put the phone down and see all the great stuff it can cover up.
Kneel when you talk to kids. Get on their level. Look into their faces.
Call me. Text me. Day or night.
Keep rescuing turtles in the road. I love that you do this. But be careful out there.
Journal. Even if it’s on your phone.
Try not to sleep in the clothes you wore the day before.
Fold your laundry as it comes out of the dryer.
‘This juice will change your life’
Take the trash out of your car, and the empties. Leave the extra sweatshirts and pair of running shoes, though.
Don’t be goaded into high-mileage motor oil, juice sold by your Facebook friends or extended service plans.
Don’t feel guilty about inactivity. Days off seem like perfect times to catch up on chores. They often serve us better if they stay clear of chores.
Never inhale as you eat a beignet. Look out for hot cheese on a pizza. (It’ll burn your chin and roof of your mouth.) Don’t try to stuff an entire tortilla chip sideways in your mouth. If you have extra milk after you finish your cereal, get more cereal.
Most of all …
Stay resilient. A rough shift or tiring week or shit semester can’t last forever.
Stay juvenile. You often act like you’re 10, not 20. And that helps me. Helps me to know you’re really my daughter, and also that when i act 10 at 46, well … it’s probably still unacceptable, but at least I’m not alone. And it shows your heart is still tender and lively.
Stay compassionate. It will serve you so well as a vet tech. You’ll handle every animal like it’s your own, treat every owner like a friend. For good news and bad, you’re the type I’d want to get news about my pet from.
More where that came from
Stay fiery. I see the goalkeeper in you when you tell stories about life. Watching out for your team. Giving them direction. Sliding out at feet and taking names. Only, watch when you slide out on a !@#er. Sometimes you can get a red card for that in life.
Stay generous. You make those around you want to give, too. Of your words, your company, your gifts. You were one helluva kid with two badass parents. Your parents are still quite badass, and you’ve turned out to be one helluva young woman, too.
Find your spirituality. Sit with friends or alone and with God. Call Him (or Her) what you will. Keep nurturing this place.
Don’t take my word for it. Go, and fail. I still do. Just, don’t go crazy with the credit cards. Most mistakes – tattoos and credit excluded – will fade away. Interest and ink tend to stay around and churn up regret.
Stay close. When you’re here, there’s a completeness I can’t describe, for all of us. Life will pull us this direction and that. May your path back always stay clear, may your phone battery stay charged, and may you always want your spot in my passenger seat.
I’ll have snacks. If I run out, we’ll stop for some.
Happy birthday, Madison. We love you.