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Teaching my children the whole lesson

One of my favorite poems to teach my children is “Listen to the Mustn’ts” by Shel Silverstein. It was one of the first poems memorized by both of my girls, and the boys will memorize it as soon as they master certain consonant combinations.

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Listen to the mustn’t, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.
Dream! Wish! Hope!
But as a parent, I can’t stop there. One of the most important lessons a parent can teach his child is illustrated in this quote borrowed from the Commonroom blog:

“If you believe in yourself and trust in your dreams and follow your star … you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.” Terry Pratchett

(Incidently, read that whole post, tangentially related to this and very, very good–far better and more useful than this.)
Dream big! Work hard! But…
There’s another lesson that everyone must learn; one that life teaches us all: You win some, you lose some. Frankly, the sooner that lesson is learned the better. Whether when playing Candy Land, or not getting the last cookie, or being chose last for sports, you will lose.
Fact: Any native born citizen reaching the age of 35 years old may be elected President of the United States of America. Lie: Anyone can grow up to be president! Fact: Hard work is necessary for success. Also a fact: Cheaters do indeed sometimes prosper, in this world anyway. Fact: hard work is necessary for success. Also fact: the guy who won the silver medal worked hard, too. You may be the very smartest, bestest, most attractive person in your family, your school, or even your hometown. There are a great many people in this world who are smarter, more able, and prettier than you. And there are people who may be demonstrably less smart, less able, and less attractive who will lead far more successful lives.
So, to sum up: don’t listen to the naysayers, kid, you dream big! Also, you can wish and hope and dream with all your might, but the guy who hustles is gonna get the gold. Sometimes. And sometimes you’ll work your butt off and come up short. Sweetie, you are going to fail. You will lose. You’ll slip and fall and make a fool out of yourself. Then, kiddo? At that point? Listen close to me…anything can happen child. Anything can be.

2 responses to “Teaching my children the whole lesson”

  1. Molly Yates Avatar
    Molly Yates

    I loved this, Twitter Mommy! It made me want to achieve something but then I saw brownies and I decided to eat those as my achievement. But seriously, I loved it! It made me want to do something with my life 🙂

  2. April Avatar

    You go take on the world, Twitter Child! And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And send me some brownies.

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