Janelle Harris has come up with 18 valuable lessons she wants to teach her daughter.
For sale: know-it-all tween who, despite having all the answers, can’t seem to keep track of homework or know when to keep mouth shut. Omnipotent Preteen Princess is on track to be future Academy Award winner and can summon tears in the face of impending punishment. Make best offer.
I kid, I kid. If sarcasm could be converted into patience, I’d have what I need to deal with Miss Thing’s antics. Next month, she’ll leave 12 behind and step across that threshold into teen-age. (Cue the screeching Camp Crystal Lake horror movie music.) She’s growing up -- and there are so many things I’m trying to impart before she walks into full-blown womanhood.
1. Pray. It sounds cliché, but having a relationship with God will keep you centered, humble and built to not fall apart every time a bad wind blows.
2. Cattiness is a stereotype. Women can compliment each other, genuinely admire one another, and never be in competition for a man, a job or anything else. Don’t believe the hype.
3. Never chase a guy. Anyone worth your time won’t make you come after him. If he runs, say bye-bye... deuces.
4. Respect your body. Don’t let yourself be reduced to boobs, butt and hips. They’re just accessories of your beauty, not the whole of your assets.
5. Act like a lady, get treated like a lady. Home training is getting to be more rare than real purses on Canal Street, but women who carry themselves with class get that treatment.
6. If he won’t wear a condom, bid him goodnight. Don’t even entertain somebody who would put their own health at risk, let alone yours.
7. Learn from other people’s mistakes. They happened before you for a reason. Take advantage of the opportunity to get a free life lesson without the headache of the drama.
8. Nude undergarments are your friend. Don’t be one of those chicks who slides white linen slacks over red panties and thinks it’s her style that’s stopping traffic.
9. Run far from a guy who doesn’t respect his mama. If he can’t treat the woman who brought him into the world like a queen, he probably isn’t going to do it for you, either.
10. Don’t be afraid to be take risks, but take smart risks. Research, meditate and then be adventurous. A life full of regret isn’t a full life.
11. Don’t let your circumstances drain your ambition. Things are, at some point, going to suck. But that doesn’t mean you should stop striving toward your goals.
12. Never, ever expect a man to do for you what you can do for yourself, which is just about everything. If a dude comes along and wants to take care of you, that’s beautiful. But until he shows up -- and in case he never does -- learn how to do as much as you can.
13. Be serious about your money. Take care of your credit and learn how to budget what income you have. And don’t get talked into co-signing a loan for anyone. That good credit will be gone quicker than a sobering dude after a one-night stand.
14. Here’s the formula: marriage then babies. There’s a reason the Lord designed it that way. If you’re going to have sex, there are too many birth control options to wind up knocked up. Protect yourself.
15. Friends are going to come and go. Not everyone is going to be in your life forever. Enjoy them while they’re there but let them go if and when you grow out of them.
16. Take care of yourself. Your health is the most important thing you have, and it fuels the thousand and one things you want to do. Work out, eat well and drink water every day, even if you have to force yourself.
17. Laugh. Nobody likes a dud, and being dry and crotchety makes you look old way before your time.
18. Love yourself. Even when you don’t understand yourself, even if you have a muffin top, even if you lose a tooth. You’re perfectly imperfect.