“Hey, kid, what’s up?
I’ve wanted to write this letter for a long time, and figured now was as good a time as any. I saw your—well, my—picture today, and got to thinking about all the pain you would have to suffer. I hurt for ya, kid.
It’s gonna be a tough road, for sure, but you can handle it. Nobody will think to tell you this, but you’re much tougher than what you give yourself credit for.
Yeah, there’ll be setbacks, disappointments and pain, but overall, you’re in for a wild ride, kid. Life is an amazing thing, and I envy all the new and exciting adventures awaiting you.
I would like to advise/inform you of a few things, however:
- There will be a few people—older males, a couple of them still boys themselves, and one man—who will try and pervert the natural order of things. They’re gonna try and get you turned on to adult magazines/movies and drugs at a very young age, and one of them will try to take advantage of you, and of your shyness and good nature. DO NOT LET THEM DO IT. They’ll also try and hurt your baby sister, Annette, and you may not even be aware of it. Open the lines of communication with her so she’ll feel 100% comfortable with telling you stuff. Protect her at all times, AND AT ALL COSTS. I don’t care if you have to pick up a baseball bat and fight ’em off, do it. This is very important. You have to be a little warrior so you can fend off the wolves.
- Your dad does love you, despite what you’re thinkin’, bro. He grew up in a house where nobody uttered the words, “I love you.” There were no kisses, and very few if any hugs. Don’t get mad when he responds, “I know,” to your nightly “I love you, daddy” comments. He will tell you he loves you, and he’s proud of you, but it won’t happen for many years. It’s not personal, it’s just him. He works long hours, right? Yeah, that’s for you and your sister. Your father has a steely-eyed, white-knuckled, bloody-toothed determination that you and Netty will not grow up poor like he did. You can’t see it now, but he’s a great man. He really is, trust me.
- In working those long hours, it will not occur to him to teach you how to defend yourself. You have to take it upon yourself to learn this. Work out, learn Karate, something. Bullies will try and take advantage of you later in life. They’re gonna try and hurt you, but don’t be frightened. You recall the “fight ’em off” comment from #1? Yeah, it’s like that. Do what’chu gotta do, little man. Double up your fist and send ’em into next week, if you have to.
- For a while, your mom is gonna be your lifeline to happiness, kid. Outside of God Himself, she’s your hero, your savior. She’ll protect you from mean-spirited neighborhood kids, brutish relatives and depression. Stick to her like glue, because there’ll be times she will be your best friend.
- Don’t limit yourself. Angry children and your own insecurities will flood your mind with doubt, but pay no attention. You’re creative, smart and funny, and people really do like you. This you may find hard to believe, but it’s true.
- Pay no never-mind to those who mock your weight. There will be “fat” nicknames—lots of them, in fact—but ignore it. These comments are coming from a place of pure ignorance. Your natural inclination will be to think everyone feels that way, but it’s not true. Despite what some would have you think, you are not a freak! You’re a great kid, and people love you. They love hangin’ out with you.
- Keep all your G.I. Joe’s. Those will be worth a ton of money someday.
- Don’t be afraid to hang out with your grandparents. One day you will turn around and they’ll all be gone. Every last one of ’em.
- In high school you’re gonna have a rough time with the whole “girl” issue. There’ll be girls you’ll like, but whom will be taken. Then when said girls ARE free, YOU’LL be taken. There’ll be other girls you’re crazy about, but whom don’t feel the same about you. It’ll be terribly frustrating, but believe it or not, there is an amazing young lady growing up in Indiana right now, whom God has reserved for you. She’s everything you’ll ever want: beautiful (inside and out), funny, strong and loving. Don’t sweat it if it seems like you’re striking out. One day the two of you will meet, and it’ll be LOVE at first sight.
- Bottom line: have fun. You’re growing up in the age of KISS and disco, kid, so live it up! Your Grandma Stroud will buy you the “BeeGees Greatest Hits” double-album for your birthday in a few years, so enjoy! You’ll discover KISS and other great rock bands here in a few years, so that’s something to look forward to.
You may want to try to work on that shyness, though. You’re a great little kid, so don’t be afraid.
Try to worry less, and laugh more.
Yeah, I know, easier said than done.
I better sign off for now. Tuck this away somewhere, in your sock drawer, or in with the liner notes of one of your KISS albums. Drag it out often and remind yourself.
Keep your chin up, keep smilin’ and enjoy yourself.
Life. It’s a beautiful thing.
Talk to ya soon, kid.