This list is one of those things that I think all guys need. When I was pregnant with Boo, I wrote him letters. Someday, I’ll give them to him. This is something along those lines, though he’s mostly too young to understand the full impact of this list right now. But in ten years, I want it to be something he is grateful to have. And something he uses. **fingers crossed**
1. Always be a gentleman. This may not seem like a big request or of great importance, but it is. Trust me. You want to win a woman’s heart, or – better yet – win over the heart of her mother? You best start opening doors, pulling out chairs, warming up cars, and shaking hands. Pick up the garbage you see on the sidewalk instead of stepping over it. Offer your seat to the elderly lady or the pregnant woman. Never make a girl pay for her meal. And don’t dismiss the importance of offering her your coat. Make me proud that the boy I raised is a good man.
2. Give it the best you’ve got. I don’t care if you are the head of the debate team, captain of the soccer team, lead vocals in a band, or first seat violin in the orchestra. Whatever you do, you best give it all you’ve got. You may not love it. You may not like it. But you started it, so you will finish it. And half-assed won’t cut it. You aren’t going to skate through – I didn’t, and I won’t let you either. So suck it up and deal, dearest.
3. Please don’t ever need bail money. Not from me. Not from your friends. Not from anyone. I am raising you to know what’s right and wrong. So when that misfit friend I warned you about suggests you do something dangerous, and illegal, remember this: His mocking you for not participating in his stupid shenanigans will be FAR better than incurring my wrath if you get arrested. Be smarter than that. Listen to that little voice inside that says “That’s not right…” and then walk away. Seriously.
4. Don’t be a baby daddy. Of course I will be hoping and praying that you are married before you are in a situation that would *cause* a baby, but I’m not so naïve as to think that it won’t ever happen. So just listen to this: You better be in love with her. You better want to marry her. And you better understand that if you don’t, and you DO get her pregnant, you’re attached to her forever – and by extension her entire fam-damily. Sobering thought in the moment if you aren’t adequately prepared, don’t ya think?!
5. For the love of God, aim when you pee. There is little else in the world nastier, more irritating, and more rage-inducing than sitting down on a toilet seat that has been piddled on by a grown man. Lift the seat, pee *in the water*, flush, put the seat down, wash hands. Don’t make me repeat myself.
6. Cooking is cool. Any man who knows his way around a kitchen is sexy, and I promise you I can find a hundred women who agree with me. Trust me when I say this: You should know how to survive on your own on GOOD food – Ramen and easy cheese on triscuits and bologna sandwiches is nothing anyone wants to subsist on. And it is highly unattractive to the girl you invite over to your big-boy apartment. Listen to your mother, buddy. Muscles are wonderful, but so is a man who can make you breakfast in bed that did not come out of a paper bag.
7. All women aren’t supermodels. They’ll have acne, stretch marks, scars, and body hair. Their hair will frizz. Their boobs will sag. They will have cellulite. They will have bags under their eyes. Their teeth may be crooked. Their bellies may be soft. They will have pores and dimples and wrinkles. And you know what? It’s okay. The one – the right one – will be perfect to you in spite of all of that. So don’t go looking for a model. Look for character. That is what you will still love in 30 years.
8. Take care of your teeth. I. Mean. Really. This should go without saying. But for reasons I fail to understand (presumably because I’m a girl), guys do not always see the importance of pretty teeth. So let’s use this example: You go for an interview. You are highly qualified. Your résumé is spotless. Your clothes are perfectly pressed. You give a good, firm handshake. And then you smile….and your mouth is full of cavities and yellow, icky teeth. You MIGHT have had the job, but your teeth just got you booted from consideration. Or what about that girl? The one you think is so beautiful. She waves at you across the lunchroom, and you walk over to her. She asks if you want to sit down with her, and you do. Then you look at her and smile, and she gets up and walks away. Why? Funky teeth. Seriously. Brush them. A LOT. This is not negotiable.
9. Read. It is highly attractive when you are dating a man who has a good vocabulary, and has read a couple of books that *weren’t* required reading for high school or college. Few things elicit eye rolls from intelligent women more than a guy who brags “I don’t read”. So pick up a book. It doesn’t really matter the type, genre, or topic. Just as long as it doesn’t have glossy pages and tons of pictures. Don’t be afraid to be intelligent. The library is not a bad place. And if you want to know the real truth, one of the hottest lines I ever heard a guy say was that he was “walking through a bookstore, stealing words.” **Gush** Men who read are sexy. You want to be sexy? Try books before tattoos.
10. Stand strong in your faith. A highly quoted line is “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” And it’s true. I know firsthand that Christianity isn’t always “cool”. It’s rarely even considered normal these days. But I want you to be strong in your faith. Pray. Pray for your family. Pray for your wife. Pray for your friends. Pray for our country. Pick up your Bible more than just for Easter. Remember that reading thing? This applies here too. Men who have character and integrity and faith are far more amazing than any man with swagger. It’s just the truth.
I won’t be following you around forever to make sure that you do the right thing, and that you make good choices. I can’t always remind you to pick up your underwear or put your plate in the sink. I am very proud of the little guy you are, and of the man you will become. This list? It’s just for reference. Ya know…in case you say I never told you so.