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Unpopular opinion: Some days, I wish my boys were older.

Before you tell me to enjoy the moment, be present, or that I’ll never get this back, please just take a seat. This is my family, my boys, and some days, I wish they were older. 

Don’t get me wrong, I relish that my older boys can stay home by themselves, make their own food, and do their own laundry. Notice please that I say they can, not that they do

And I love how our youngest runs around like a drunken sailor, all wobbly-like, and is putting more words together now, thinks every color is “gah-ween,” and freaks out every time he sees a tractor. 

But, I wish they were older. I watch them interact (read: fight, scrap, yell, get angry without warrant, say cruel things followed by “just joking,” ignore directions, mess around, “forget” a chore, etc.), and I want them to be older. Now. 

RELATED: Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up

I wish they could learn some solid truths about life that, if they’re anything like me, they will hear from their parents hundreds of times but won’t learn until they experience these truths with someone else. Working with teenagers at school and again in my part-time gig at a local restaurant, I’m reminded of how much I learned in my teen years when I got out of my house and into a job.

Just a few things, off the top of my head:

1. Show up on time. On-time is not when you’re required to be there. It is 10 minutes earlier. Anything less is late.

2. Trust is hard won and easily lost. It only takes one screw-up to lose the trust of those around you. Once it’s gone, you will be watched. 

3. Own up to a mistake immediately. Apologize. Be better. 

4. Be impeccable with your word. If you say you’ll be there, be there. If you say you’ll do it, do it. Finish it. 

5. Work like your boss is over your shoulder even if no one is watching. Do your best, always, not for your boss but for you. This is integrity. 

6. Ask if you have questions. Don’t leave a task and later say, “I wasn’t sure.” Ask. 

7. Always clean up your mess. Don’t ever leave it for someone else. Both of these actions get noticeddon’t be noticed for the latter. 

8. Be coachable. Look people in the eye when they criticize you. All criticism is not bad. A lot is made to make you better. Listen and act accordingly. 

9. Give praise freely, but don’t expect it. If you did a great job on something, look at it with pride and move on. You are the only person who has to approve of your work. Do not threaten your integrity regardless of what those around you are doing. 

RELATED: Let Us Raise Boys Who Have Respect Running Through Their Veins

10. Know that working hard will likely garner more responsibility, but not always more pay. 

11. Think like the boss. This is a learned skill. It involves careful observation and a lot of listening. 

12. Learn how to talk to people. Learn how to read their body and facial expressions. Notice that this is a learning process. You’re going to mess up and be awkward. That’s okay. Keep talking. Learn when and how it’s appropriate to make suggestions to others, when and how to interrupt (yes, adults do that), and when and how to keep your mouth shut. 

13. Have a good attitude, regardless of the task. It’s work, and you can learn from every situation. Look for the lesson and take it in. Look for ways to make the jobs of those around you easier. Be that guy. You will get taken advantage ofbe kind anyway. Look for the good. If you are that guy, you’ll not only be fun to work with but you’ll always have fun at work. 

14. Take your breaks. You need a rest too. It’s easy to work through them but take them. 

Yes, I heard these things a hundred times from my parents, but I didn’t learn them until I worked for someone else. I wish my boys would just learn these from me, but all I can do is hope that when they do get jobs, that won’t be the first time they’ve heard the lessons above.

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Amanda Mefferd

Amanda is a wife and mother of four sons. She is a former full-time teacher with over 15 years in education. The majority of her career has been spent working with teenagers. Amanda loves living on what she refers to as her "6 Acres of Heaven" in rural Iowa. She writes about parenting, marriage, and mental health. 

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