Tricounty News

A note to my teenage children



High school can be both daunting and wonderfulÐand that's just during the first 10 minutes of homeroom. The four years from freshman to senior encompass possibilities for great learning and growth, and I'm not referring solely to the properties of physics or the intricacies of writing the perfect five-paragraph essay.

The kind of knowledge I'm talking about can't be found in a textbook, but it's just as important as any algebraic equation or scientific hypothesis. I can make it to and through my elder days without ever knowing how to diagram a sentence or safely use a Bunsen burner, but the theorems of lifeÐwell, that's another story.

The rules of life are critical to one's successful navigation of the world at large. Over the years, I've decided everything I needed to know, I could have learned in high schoolÐif only I'd been paying attention. For instance:

It doesn't matter how many times you get your photo in the yearbook. What's important is all the fun you have while behind the camera.

There is no such thing as cool. Those who believe they've attained the plateau known as cool find they must work very hard to maintain their statusÐeven though it doesn't exist. Some people never figure this out. As the years go by, it becomes more and more obvious who these "cool" folks are.

It doesn't matter what brand of fancy tennis shoes the other guy wearsÐas long as you are able to run faster and win the race.

Student council, choir, chess club, cooking, sports, sculpture, academics, theaterÐthe list goes on. Sign up for it all and do as much as you possibly can. Experience and enjoy.

When walking down the hallway, keep your head up and say hello to everyone.

There are things in life bigger than prom. (Hard to believe, I know!) Many events that seem important in the moment, a playoff game, who's on homecoming court, the big anatomy test, a botched orchestra solo, won't even register on your radar five years after the fact. Perspective is key.

Be kind to everyone, including and especially the goofy, gawky nerd in your gym class. He may not be the most coordinated at volleyball, but you might end up working for him some day.

You can avoid a lot of troubles and headaches if you simply make it to class on time.

Respect yourself and others. Teachers, custodians and principals all fit into the definition of others. So do parents.

The kids who get the good grades all do one thing in class. They listen. This skill will prove useful throughout your lifetime. Practice and use it.

Do not cheat. Ever. No exceptions. No excuses. Period.

The football quarterback, quiet girl in chemistry and captain of the debate team all put on their jeans one leg at a time. Our differences may seem vast, but they aren't. Not really.

Study diligently and be prepared. There is no substitute for hard work.

Never, ever give out your locker combination, even to the cute girl (or boy) in history class.

Take responsibility for your actions, on the field, in the classroom and with life in general. If you mess up, fess up. Your likelihood of getting a second chance is much better if you do.

Learning doesn't stop with a cap and gown or graduation. Just when you think you have everything figured out, you realize you don't. That's okay, because learning makes life interesting.

Stay interested. Always.

Love, Mom.

Follow Slices of Life on Facebook. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.