Saturday, September 15, 2007

Advice: the Best and the Worst

“Hindsight’s 20/20,” goes the old country song, and I find I have accumulated a considerable store of it. Mine takes the form of memories with refrains like “I should have done this.” “That, on the other hand, was a bad idea.” “I wish I’d paid attention when…” “I’m glad I ignored. . . .” Regrets, of course, are never useful. But there’s nothing wrong with stocktaking – if only to distill hard-won wisdom for the next generation:

Advice I’m Glad I Listened to:

*Don’t get your eyebrows tattooed on.*

My mother’s housekeeper had this done and at the time it looked pretty good. Later I heard that eyebrows shift with age so you can end up with a tattoo in the wrong place.

*Spend all the time you can playing with your baby.*

I used an inheritance from my grandmother to subsidize working part-time for a couple of years after my daughter was born. I’ve never been sorry.

Advice I Didn’t Take But Wish I Had:

*Go ahead and join the Peace Corps. It will change your life.*

I applied and was accepted but chickened out in the end.

*Stand up straight.*

I know you tried, Mom, and I wish I’d paid attention. I tried with my own daughter with the exact same result.

Advice I’m Glad I Didn’t Listen to:

*Marry that law student and move to Pensacola.*

Enough said about that.

*Don't have rotator cuff surgery, the rehab is too painful.*

Yeah, but now I can swim laps and push open a door without wincing.

Advice I Shouldn’t Have Listened to but Did:

*This is the wrong time to buy an apartment.*

Maybe it’s changing now, but in my experience, real estate regret goes only one way: you should have bought and didn’t. Five years earlier, and you’d have made a fortune.

*There will be time to teach table manners later; too much stress at the dinner table can bring on anorexia.*

Some things need to be instilled in children while you are still the absolute boss. Wait until later and you’re in trouble.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Ms. Banks, we love your advice and a group of us are actively seeking any form of “PS. A Few Small Things We May Have Neglected to Tell You: Life Advice from the Grown-Ups.” Please consider publishing this!