Oh d*mn. My poor sons.
In a world chock-full of wise and dignified male figures who save lives, carve out financial fortunes, and pretty much change the world in a trillion different ways, these two lads of mine (Henry, 3, and Charlie, 8 months) got stuck with me as their dad.
Well, besides all my shortcomings and ramshackle physical DNA (and in spite of all of my lackluster acomplishments when it comes to taking advantage of the American Dream and NOT becoming a Rockefeller type), I still belive that I have a thing or two to offer these fellas of mine when it comes to something pretty important: love.
Like a lot of other dads out there, I've been churned through the mill when it comes to matters of the heart. I've been held tight, seduced, punched in the face and had my heart broken. I've been helplessly giddy on a Friday night and had sex in a bathroom stall. I've not had sex for way too long, promised things, lied, cheated, been promised and lied to and cheated myself. Basically, I've experienced enough of what can (and will) happen when you fall in love to justify teaching you two young men about this crazy little thing called love.
Without further adieu, here are 3 relationship mistakes I hope my sons never make:
1. Being Afraid Of What Your Heart's Telling You
Even when you're young (or maybe especially when you're young), having feelings for another person can be unbelievably overwhelming. Let's face it: falling in love can be just about the most awkward thing a person can experience. But no matter what, don't be afraid of the things your heart is telling you.
When I was a kid, I was scared of my own passion. And I spent years feeling self-concious about my body (I still HATE the word 'husky') and about my own self-worth. I suspect a lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn't have a dad around during some of my most important years. Nobody to tell me that it was natural to feel good about a girl, or that it was OK to get a little horny for your middle school art teacher. I had to figure it all out on my own. While so many other kids were 'dating' and holding hands and kissing and going to the movies with someone they liked, I went through middle school and a most of high school without even coming close to having a girlfriend.
Finally, when I was a junior in high school, and I was finally able to move past my fears, I met a girl who actually liked me and wanted to 'go out' with me. I blew it. I never allowed myself to actually accept that she did, in fact, like me for who I was.
My point is: you have to like yourself to be able to like someone else. It's so crucial when you're a kid, and it's just as important later on when you become a man. Sons, I'm doing everything in my power to let you know what awesome people you are and that it's OK to feel really fantatstic about your heart skipping a beat at the sight of someone else.
2. Being An A$$hole
Oh, I know, it seems so cliche to tell your kid to be kind, right? Why the hell would I even bother to include it when being kindness is just so obvious? But no matter how many times we hear the words, no matter how much we experience or witness cruelty and heartlessness, so many of us still don't ever seem to understand that kindness is the key to the universe. It just is.
I've known for a long time now that I'm not a sinister person. I don't have a murderous bone (or even a pick-pocket bone) in my body, but it took me decades, DECADES, to comprehend that good intentions just ain't enough. There are a million ways to be mean, to kick human hearts to the curb in this life, and they're all so easy to instigate. Being an as*hole is simple work. Being chivalrous, humane and empathetic (especially when you're a human growing up in this increasingly bonkers world) is very, very difficult stuff.
Sons, hear me on this: Being kind to a girl (or a guy) you have feelings for is the single most rewarding and beneficial experience you will ever know. Treating people badly will always, without fail, mess you up inside. You can run from it. You can hide from it. But your conscience will haunt you one way or another when you drop even a small dose of meanness into any relationship. However, if you take the long way and do every single thing in your power to be a gentleman? Oh my God, the rewards you will reap will astound you. And what a difference it will make in your life.
3. Learn The Difference Between Lust vs. Love
Listen, boys. Do NOT make the mistake of swirling up lust with love. They are two very, VERY different things. Of course, you will have to experience both of them to fully understand what the hell I'm talking about, but take it from me: your body, and those tidal waves of physical desires that will eventually come hurricane-ing up out of your crotch and boil your blood until you can't even smell anything but the scent of your own personal needs, is all a pack of lies when it comes to relationships. Love could care less about sex. It's that simple. Oh sure, you'll need to fall in love with someone who you're physically compatible with, but still. The difference is monumental, and understanding that is vital to a healthy, long-term relationship.
Sex isn't a play thing, fellas, even though it may seem like it these days. There was a time (not so long ago) when sex and having sex was all a very private matter, and for the most part, people respected the sanctity of it. But these days, we've been force-fed so much sexuality that we've confused ourselves into thinking there's nothing more important than getting friggin' laid. Don't be fooled by the burned-out carcasses of YouPorn videos and drunken sloppy testosterone-fueled subhumans whipping their gear around and acting like they've found real happiness in the constant, grunting bum-and-grind of never-ending sex. It's all bullsh*t, lads. Dig deep, and you'll see. Of course, it's OK as to feel hornier than a toad, in fact, it's natural. But it's NEVER okay to abuse that feeling with another person.
This is all a long-winded way of saying: Let yourself fall in love. Don't be afraid of it and don't be ashamed of it and try not to overthink it. This world can offer many riches, lads, but nothing can ever compare to the power you will harvest or the contribution you will make if you grow up to be the men I know you can be, the men you WILL be.
Two brothers, with respect in their hearts and a twinkle in their eyes. Two fellas who can bring an awful lot of happiness to the lucky hearts they're going to encounter.
I'll be waiting, boys. I'll be right here whenever you need me.