OPINION – Dear Forrest, today is the big day. You’re 16 now and in my book that means you’re ready to start pulling your weight in the world. When you get home from school today, your bags will be packed and waiting for you on the front step. I wish you well in your new life.
Like you, I love to tease. But since I have your attention, and this is a bit of a milestone for both of us, there are some things I’d like you to know.
It’s amazing how quickly the years have flown since you arrived. You were a big boy at 9 1/2 pounds and you filled our lives with wonder. I’ve never forgotten holding you and talking to you when you were just days old and, out of the blue, you smiled. It wasn’t just gas. Your Grandma Hyde was there and also saw it happen.
It was the first of many times I’ve felt a sense of awe at being your dad.
One of my favorite memories of you was the time we were driving to visit family in Denver and we passed through the Eisenhower Tunnel. I’ve never seen a toddler’s eyes get so big so quickly. That, combined with the enormous grin on your face, had all of us laughing so hard that we couldn’t breathe.
You’ve given us our share of frights too.
The time I came home from church meetings to find your bike wrecked at the end of the driveway, a trail of crimson blood splotches leading to the front door, and nobody home wasn’t much fun. Thank goodness a few stitches were all you needed.
Then there was the morning we woke up to hear you having a severe asthma attack. You could barely talk, but my heart froze when, on the way to the emergency room, you asked if you were going to die. My gray hairs definitely started in earnest that day.
For the most part, you’ve made it extraordinarily easy for me to be your dad. You’ve always had an even temper. You’re honest and you treat others with kindness. You have discovered for yourself the connection between hard work and achievement. You’ve chosen friends who don’t encourage you to do things that would diminish you.
Now here you are on the threshold of the next phase of your life. You’re about to get a drivers license. You’re old enough to start dating. Somehow you’ve managed to avoid most of the stupid mistakes I made at your age. You’re off to a great start.
I’ve watched in amazement, as you’ve become a competitive swimmer, a practiced musician, a serious student, and an entrepreneur. I woke up one morning trying to figure out who the man was that was speaking to your mom downstairs, and was shocked when I realized that it was your voice. Everywhere we go, people point out that you’re now taller than me. And I couldn’t be more proud.
Instead of devolving into a teenager, you’ve chosen to become a young man. There’s a world of difference between the two and if you’ll stay true to yourself, it will set the tone for the rest of your life.
You’ve never had more autonomy than you have at this point in your life. Your ability to make your own decisions is truly becoming your own, but you still have the benefit of consulting with those who love you most. Take advantage of that assistance. You will make mistakes, but I will never love you less for it.
All of your parents’ gray hairs and wrinkles are the products of a lifetime of valuable experience in both what to do and what not to do. Whenever possible, try to learn from the mistakes of others, including the ones you’ve seen me make.
Change will come. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Flow with it and seek the doorway that always springs open when another closes. At the same time, don’t shy away from failure. It’s an essential part of life and an invaluable teacher. A life that is free from stress, risk, struggle, or uncertainty will not allow you to reach your full potential.
It is in the moments of our greatest discomfort that we achieve our truest growth. The key is to keep striving no matter what. And don’t forget to laugh. It really helps.
I’m proud of who you’re becoming. Don’t be surprised if I start coming to you for advice.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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