11 Life Lessons from Beyond

Michael and Carter - Fifth Grade Grad

Carter’s fifth grade graduation sort of crept up on me, from a school he attended for just one year, but one of the best years he’s had in elementary school. If there is one thing I have learned from Carter, its to trust him. He had been unhappy in his old school for a while, but I kept attributing it to grief, depression, or whatever crazy emotional stuff he must SURELY be going through as a result of his loss. Only in the final year of his last school did I realize that perhaps it was not the grief but the school. It was a wonderful, nurturing school and we all had many friends there. Selfishly I didn’t want him to leave. But it wasn’t enough for him and we both knew it. He needed more and he wanted to go to a “normal” public school. He wanted to be a normal kid, whatever that was, but it seemed to entail going to a public school.

And so, fifth grade graduation didn’t seem as monumental as it might have if he had stayed in the school he had gone to since first grade. Until I realized how much he had grown up, had been challenged in school, took an interest. It had been a really big year.

He was asked to select someone to introduce him during the ceremony, a school tradition, ultimately settling on Michael who has known him since he was four. Michael was honored. Carter flew down the stairs just before it was time to leave wearing one of Arron’s bow ties. In the playground in front of a bunch of parents sitting in white plastics seats, Carter stood with a huge smile of his face as Michael said so many kind words.

Olivia wrote the sweetest letter to him, full of advice for middle school and I realized I needed to write a letter of my own. I needed to tell him what an amazing kid he was and how proud his dad would have been which was how I stumbled upon writing a list of rules or mantras by which Arron lived. Life lessons that I knew Arron would want me to teach his son:

  1. Always do what you say you will do.
  2. Vow never to lie, no matter how hard it might be, especially to the people that you love the most.
  3. If you don’t like the way your life is going, then change it. (this can be done in small ways, like painting a room or in big ways, like changing jobs).
  4. Write stuff down so you don’t forget it.
  5. Keep your back straight
  6. Don’t take the mean things people say to you too seriously. Often they are saying things that are really a reflection of themselves, not you.
  7. Save money. Don’t spend it on silly things that you will just throw out in a few months when you are bored of them
  8. If you do spend money, spend it on a really good suit, and an excellent pair of shoes (this one is for when you start working). Never skimp on a suit.
  9. Don’t take sh*t from anyone. If you see someone being treated badly, say something.
  10. Always put the toilet seat down. Women will respect you for it.
  11. Love your family. They will always be the ones that have your back.

He hasn’t said much about the letters, but his back does seem a little straighter and the toilet seat was down as always (he learned that one ages ago). Clearly he’s ready for middle school.

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  1. Debbie June 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I love the idea of lessons from beyond. I’m going to start my own list for my sons, from their Dad. While I very frequently mention what their Dad would have said, or what he liked etc. etc. I really like the idea of them written down, for the boys to refer to again and again.

    Thanks for the inspiration! Congratulations to Carter!

  2. Cathy June 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    my Jasper is in the same grade. I am so proud of him he has gotten through the last 2 school years with out his dad. I love this list. I will attempt to do something similar.

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