Things I’d Like my Son to Know. 

Lesson #11- You are You in Everybody. 

The golden rule; “Treat others how you too wish to be treated.”

The age old saying of treating others how you wish to be treated was one that I was taught many years ago.  It underpins cohesion and almost subtly enforced a social contract that I see you as someone with the shared values as I have and therefore will treat you as I expect to be treated. 

The problem lies here, and this is where it all goes pear shaped.  What if the others don’t share my values, conditioning, culture, behaviour? 

Well then I’ll just have to wing it I guess, right? 

Wrong.

See there’s another rule. The platinum rule that says, “Treat others how they wish to be treated”.

Knowing what I know now, that seeing myself in others doesn’t mean seeing them as me, but as an extension of me, with all their own hopes, desires, aspirations, expectations etc. 

Son, if you want to truly succeed with people you need to know a couple of things. Firstly, you are you, with your own personality, dreams, hopes etc. And that others have their own. 

Secondly – everyone is equal. In that I mean that when you see yourself in others, remember that you are no more than then, and certainly no less than them. 

You taught me a lesson today. You built a train out of lego, and placed all the individual people onto it. They all had different faces, jobs, ages, and you didn’t see any of these. For you – there was room on the train for everyone. 

See beyond the facade of the exterior and find the commonality between you and the other.  You will find that placing everyone equally, you yourself become included in this. It takes you out of the inferiority or superiority complexes of the mind. But be wary of the fact that although you might see others as equals, others may not see you as their equal. Rise above their insecurity or complex, and keep in mind- you are you, in everybody. 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 10 – Friendship is priceless.

They say that you can identify the characteristics of a person by meeting the 5 people they are closest to.

I was talking to my wife some days ago, about how as we grow older, some of the friends we had as children, teenagers, young adults, seem to drift out of our lives, and we are, we hope, left with a few, strong ties, peers, family extensions we call friends.

I grew up with a few close friends.  I wasn’t particularly inundated with friends, but I had taken the decision (somewhat much to my regret) to have a few close friends, and not to cast the net out too wide, incase I became friends with someone that took me down a wild path of drugs, booze, promiscuity, for which my parents would surely whoop my ass.

No, I chose the normal path.  My closest friend in secondary school, or high school as it is known now, was a guy called Jonathan.  You may have seen Harry Potter right? Well basically this kid was the spitting image of Harry Potter, brown hair, glasses and sharp as a tack.  As we grew up, he seemed to age in much the same way as Daniel Radcliffe did in those films.

Yes JB was a good friend, perhaps the best mate a guy could ask for.  The thing I regret the most happened when we completed our GCSE’s and we were all deciding on where to go for 6th form, and much to my sadness, JB moved out of the school to a better 6th form, leaving me to, at this late stage, to start to formulate new friendships.

I really found it difficult to relate to the groups and cliques forming at school, and felt somewhat as an outcast.  It just so happened to find friends in my faith circle, and I now have, of the friends I have made during my life, kept 4 or 5 people closest to me.

Son, take each connection you make, as an opportunity to better yourself and the world around you.  Each person you meet will teach you something about yourself, and the people you keep closest to you will be your support when you need . They are your companions to share laughter and memories with.

Friends are like family that we find along the journey of life.  Family that have different parents, backgrounds, cultures, norms – but ones we see beyond because there is something we connect with within them. It might be difficult to understand what I’m saying – but remember this;  Make good friends, and make time for them.  Take time to understand them and be there for them.

Good friends are diamonds that we collect in the journey of our lives that make us all the more richer.

 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 9 – Sometimes you just need “Me-Time”

After a tiring evening putting my son to bed I realised that in the past 3 months, i’ve not taken time out to go for a walk.  It was a bout 8pm and I was getting to that agitated point in my day where I felt as though I needed to expend some energy before I rest my head.

As I grabbed by jacket, keys and phone (for emergency) and exited the door and down the street, I realised I had left my prized partner at home – my wife.  For once, in a very long time, I was doing something that wanted to do, that was just about me and fresh air (as much as can be had in the suburbs of the UK) and I was actually glad for the time to myself.

It was only a short walk, about 25 minutes but in that time, I came to the realisation that in this world, I came alone, and I will leave it, alone, and no one can change any of that.

This thought continued and I began to feel slightly isolated, cocooned off from the remainder of the world and all alone.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a negative emotion, more like a free feeling, that actually being alone isn’t something to be afraid of.

Son, we live in a time where we are wired into the brains, phones, homes of millions of people.  Our thoughts, once put out into the social ether, are not solitary anymore.  They are listened to and answered by the masses, and this overload of opinion, emotion, connectivity, as often thrilling as it can be, is actually a source of much strain.

Be in tune with yourself, your own thoughts, vibration, and solitude.

If you find yourself needing to be disconnected from the over-connectivity, take it.  There are many that will say that this is a bad thing, or that it goes against the grain – but for your own peace of mind, find peace in your mind.

A spiritual teacher from India shared that peace in the home begins when there is peace within.  Find that which brings you peace.  Meditate, walk, switch off to reconnect with yourself.  Build yourself up so that you recognise your inner peace, a place where you find balance to face the world each day.

Things I’d like my Son to Know

Lesson #8 – No, Means No.

I was asked to comment on the topic of “Sex Ed – Should schools improve their delivery, including the topics of relationships, consent, abuse, sexting etc” on the BBC Asian Network. 

 I was thinking about my own experience of sex-ed at school and how poorly it was delivered. We never got any relationship advice, no support with dealing with the emotional turmoil that was puberty, and then counter that with the only relationship and sex ed that we did get -Growing up with Bollywood movies meant watching nearly each and every lead actor trying to win over the heroine of the film, and so on ….

Every single movie had this theme.

No matter what genre the actual movie was supposed to be, be it horror, or thriller, or even comedy there was this underlying seedy romance.

Now the problem with these films was that, they very nearly always had the male lead chasing the female lead, and no matter how much she rejected his advances, he pushed and pushed and pushed, and even through all the songs and dances, she would still say “no” or a variation of “bugger off”, he would still persist, and ultimately win the woman.

This left most guys with a warped viewpoint on how to score with women, and that was this.

“If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying, and even if she says No, she really means Yes.”

I remember an incident at school.  I was about 12 years old.  It was a regular Tuesday (maths was after lunch) and I remember some sort of commotion in the class room while the teacher had gone for the whiskey break.

See I remember this one guy, we’ll call him H, and this girl in class, we’ll call her K.  Now H had a crush on K, but K couldn’t stand him. After a lot, and I mean A LOT of encouragement from the other guys, he decided enough was enough and he was going to “pounce”.

And I remember this crazy chase around the classroom tables where H was chasing K and eventually he caught her, and kissed her, among the raucous applaud from the other kids in class, and I remember seeing K, thoroughly disgusted and stressed.

It was a given in school then, and it seems like it is now too, that if you want to get the girl, you keep chasing.

Son there is a massive problem here with this.  Sometimes a girl just isn’t interested.

If there’s one thing I need you to fully equip your mind with, that is that No means No.

We will always tell you “No you cant do this” or “No that’s not appropriate” and we may back down.  That’s because we’re your parents and sometimes just want an easy life.

However when a member of the opposite sex says it, back off. Immediately.

The world we’re in now is very different to the one I grew up in.  Nowadays, its all about texting and sexting, body-shaming,  unrealistic expectations from the opposite sex, relationship dysfunction and poor self esteem as a by-product, cyber-bullying and so on, and I can’t imagine what life will be like in 5-10-15 years time. Kids are being pressured into revealing things about themselves that they shouldn’t (because at this age its very illegal) sharing things about themselves that should stay very private, and being ridiculed, harassed, blackmailed and abused as a result.

If there’s one consistent rule I want you to live by, it’s that You are Your Own Property, and No-one is Your Property.  No will always mean No.

We all have our own boundaries.  Never allow anyone to cross your boundary. Never cross anyone else’s boundary without their say so. This goes for emotional and physical.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson #7 – 30 seconds can change your life. 

I heard a story about a 23 year old man, who was the sole man in the house looking after his mother, his siblings after his dad left. 

As fate would have it, trying to make ends meet he gets into the wrong company and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It took 30 seconds being in the wrong place, and he’s caught by the police, and I jailed for 2 years. 

He wasn’t doing anything wrong per se, he was with just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. 

30 seconds is all it took and he lost everything. His mothers respect, his family’s love, his own dignity. 

When he was released from prison, it had such a profound impact on him that his immediate response was “there’s no way I’m going back there.”

Son the choices you make, and these are conscious choices, can change your life. Every single choice. 

As your parents we will try and give you the best possible guidance and support to allow you to make the best decisions, to know your right from wrong, and hopefully be strong enough to choose a positive path. 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson #6- be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.

I was watching an elderly lady who sat down to have a cup of tea today at a coffee shop.. she was by herself and had a walking stick.

I saw another elderly lady, who was sat watching this same old lady. Dressed really well, taken good care of herself and I thought to myself, “I wonder what she’s Thinking?”

As it turns out, I watched her get up of her seat, walk over to this lady who was sat with her coffee, and ask her if she needed anything else… she asked her if she wanted a cookie, some toast, if she had transport home.

Kindness is an amazing thing.

I’ll tell you what I thought she was thinking. I thought she was looking down at her slightly, almost condescending.

How wrong I was.

I see it like this. She must have seen her reflection in this lady, and saw herself, possibly needing some love, support, a cookie..

Son, there are two elements to this story, that I need you to understand well.

Firstly. Respect and love yourself. 

Be kind to yourself. Of all the species on this planet, you, me, humans have been gifted this human body. The “pinnacle” of creation. The opportunity to change ones surrounding, self, and company to its own desire. Not all creatures have this ability.

Respect yourself. A wonderful saint in India, in the mid 50’s told his flock “no matter how much or how little you have, whatever station you are, keep yourself physically clean, clothes clean no matter what you wear, and always stand out well.” He also made more of his focus on having clean character, moral fiber, and a giving heart however I take this to mean that whatever you have in your life, dress appropriately and make sure you are well presented for each occasion.

Recognise that your own worth is important. I live under the guidance that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but is thinking of yourself less”

You Are Unique.

Remember your value as that, and treat yourself well. How you treat yourself, will form the reflection of how others see and treat you.

Secondly, be kind to others.

As I grew up, people valued things like manners, respect, patience, honesty, kindness, generousity. As I see the world now, it values these things less and less, ironically needing it more and more.

If theres anything you can do for others, without diminishing the values you uphold, without being a huge burden on you or your family, do it.

The world needs kindness. It spreads happiness to people, often who need it the most. And to add to that, never have the expectation that you will get a reward. Even a thank you. Do it because you see yourself in that person. If you have valued and respected yourself, you wont need validation.

You will find this easy. It’s in your blood. Your mum is one of the kindest people I know, and even if you have 1/10th of her kindness you will be an asset to society.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know. 

Lesson #5 – Laugh. Lots. 

I have always believed laughter is the best medicine. 

My friends will say whiskey is, but I’ve never had a hangover from laughing too much.

Growing up my school friends thought I was weird. I found everything funny. Names, crap jokes, foreign words, a random memory, farting.

Just about anything.

I believe I hardly got ill because I laughed so much, and when I did, I found things that made me laugh and I recovered quickly.

Now I’m older I still hold this theory true (and yes- my friends still think I’m weird!)

Whenever, my son, you’ve been ill, your mum and I have tickled you, played with you, and done anything to make you laugh to get you to recover quickly. The times we haven’t done, you’ve not recovered as quickly and we’ve all been miserable as a result of it.

Laughter makes you feel good. For a lot longer than the laughter lasts. It raises your endorphins, lowers your cortisol, and lifts your spirits, higher than any intoxicant can.

Son, life is a beautiful gift and a wonderful journey. Take every single day as an opportunity to laugh about something.

Every night, think about, remember, or share with us, something that has made you happy or smile in the day, and you will find that your mind looks for the positive more than the negative.

Whatever you get dealt with in life, may not be fair, or the result of your own actions. But you have a choice.  To deal with it happily, or get upset through it.

If you develop the habit of erring towards the positive, you will seek out solutions, and find that often, the solutions find you.