Dear Mason- James and Oscar,
Firstly, thank you for being you. When you were both born I cried, tears of happiness and of disbelief. Disbelief that these tiny little bubbas, all 7lb 12oz (M-J) and all 8lb 8oz (Oscar), were finally here. After what seemed like months for me – I can only imagine what it felt like for your mum and dad – you were finally here. Ask me now, and I would bet my left leg that I can remember exactly where I was when I got the message to say you had arrived, I can remember where I was when I received the first picture of you. I can tell you now that you instantly became my wallpaper and screensaver on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. There was not one person that wasn’t thrilled by your arrival. I can promise you that. Even though I don’t know what age you’ll read this letter I can tell you both now that you have brought so much joy to everyone that has come in to contact with you in your lives. At the age of 26 I can confidently say you are the two best things in my life. Nothing else, no one else, comes close.
Secondly, the reason I am writing this letter to you now (Oscar you are 3y 9m and Mason-James you are 3 ½ days old) is because I want to tell what I have learnt about being young, whilst I’m still going through it. So I’m not telling you (or lecturing, you as you may see it – that’s if you take after me of course) when I’m twice the age I am now (gulp) and you think that I have no clue what I’m harping on about because, after all, there is no way Auntie KayKay was ever young is there!?!?!
So, what do I want you to know?
Please remember that you are loved. No matter what else you believe to be true nothing is truer than this. Yes, mum and dad might be super uncool because when you were 15 they wouldn’t let you stay out all night, or let your girlfriend/boyfriend stay over, they might not know what the number one song is in the chart, but they love you. They are your parents and they deserve to be treated with respect. So hold your tongue. They might not let you get away with everything you’d like to but that in itself is showing you they love you. They are teaching you boundaries and respect for both yourself and others. Remember that showing their love doesn’t always come in massive gestures. When mum asks you if you ate today, or dad tells you to take a jacket out because it’s cold – that is them showing they love you. If they didn’t love you they wouldn’t care if you starved or froze to death. You want to know if someone really loves you look at the little things, not the grand gestures. Also remember that your mum and dad are doing the best they can, with what they have. You might not get what you want but I can tell you now both your mums and dads would go without to make damn sure you’ve got what you need. Do not take them for granted.
To teenage you, get over yourself. Contrary to what you believe, the world does not revolve around you. You are the centre of someone’s world, but not of everyone’s world. You need to remember this. If you forget I am quite happy to bring you down a peg or two.
Some people just won’t like you. AND THAT’S OK. There will be more people who like you than don’t (unless you’re a real asshole, but as you’re my nephews, this will be physically impossible).
The people you go to school with are rarely your forever. As they are all you’ve known, you will think they are. In the majority of cases, for most people, they aren’t. ALL of my best friends I met either through university or work. Unless you are one of the rare ones, you will have this weird period of your life when you are 16/17/18. You won’t know what it is that feels off, but something will. At this point in my career I have employed a LOT of young people who are at ‘school leaver’ age and every year I see them go through it. Don’t be too hard on yourself; you are going through a lot right now. The security blanket of school is about to be taken from around you (no matter how much you may or may not hate it, you will miss the security, the routine). The people you have seen near enough everyday for most of the last – at least – 5 years will suddenly not be there everyday. You will think that it is the worst thing in the world. I promise you, it’s not. Trust the uncertainty. This is just the beginning. Life is about to become SO much more than you thought it could be.
The world is so much bigger than this town. Please travel. If you can only promise me one thing, promise me this. It doesn’t have to be for 10 years with a backpack. It can be weekend getaways; it can be a 2-week holiday each year. Just please get out there, travel. Experience the world and all it has to offer. You will become a better person for it. There is only so much you can learn about other cities and cultures from a textbook. The best way to learn something is to experience it yourself. Oscar, one of the things I loved about your mum when we first met, and even now, is her love of an adventure. You’ve got a great role model.
Don’t be afraid to fall in love.
A list of just some of the places I have visited in my 26 years. Travel is possible on any budget.
The first time you get your heart-broken is not going to be fun; in fact it will completely suck balls, but YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT. Every romantic novel and Hollywood movie tells us that you should take a chance on love because, if you can’t take a chance on love, what can you take a chance on? If people keep saying it, they must be right. Also, please don’t be that asshole who leads girls on to make himself feel better. If you don’t like someone, be blunt (NOT MEAN). In the long run it’ll be better for everyone involved.
The number on the scale is just that – a number. It doesn’t define who you are. Having said that, food is not the answer. It will not make you feel better about yourself. Eat healthily and exercise regularly. Mason-James, I am praying that you take after your dad here. Your mum’s logic on eating her greens is not quite sound. “Cows eat grass, I eat lots of beef, and therefore I eat greens” Eat a little bit of everything. Enjoy your food, you will discover that food is one of the only 2 things in the world (in my opinion) that has the power to bring people from all around the world, together. The second is music.
Everyone is right: money can’t buy you happiness. Money can provide security, but once you have security, more money cannot buy you more happiness. If you show me someone who thinks money can buy happiness, I will show you someone who has never had a lot of money. The reason is the happiness that material things bring you is temporary. Experiences and memories will give you the happiness you crave. The happiness money can’t. My happiest times are attached to people, not things.
Oscar, this is an old photo of your mum and I at my 25th birthday. I doubt I will remember what she bought me, I remember her being there.
Find your passion.
Mason – James, this one is of your mum and I a few months before she found out she was pregnant with you. It was taken at Cousin Katie’s wedding.
Find what makes you happy and spend your time on that. Be great at it. You have gifts and skills in you that have not been seen before, and that won’t be seen again. Someone once said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work again”
. I believe that to be true. If you do what you love and love what you do, you will work hard and you will enjoy it!
Lastly, because I am aware this is going on a bit. Know that life is full of struggle. Bad things will happen. To both you and those you love. These things that happen very often cannot be changed. Do not blame yourself. Keep fighting. There is an old Japanese proverb
“Fall seven times, stand up eight ”
Keep this attitude in life. Many people suffer great tragedies and live full and happy lives. Remember the people you love, cherish them and mourn them. Accept that terrible things happen, and try to live as if each day is your last with those you love. There is nothing else you can do.
Before I sign off, just one last thing, always remember no matter where life has taken me, no matter what country I am in:
I love you.
Oh, and look at these…
Mason, this is our first photo together. Taken the day after you were born at East Surrey Hospital.
Oscar bear, this was our first photo together, taken in your first ever home in Sanderstead. I remember just staring at you for ages. And yes, I had ginger hair – it was by choice!