For My Daughter, From My Daughter

For My Daughter:

1. Wear a coat; it’s cold outside. Fashion won’t fend off the flu.

2. The sunscreen you wear today helps you avoid holes being cut in your face by the dermatologist when you’re 40.

3. Learn as much as you can about everything that interests you; it makes your life more interesting.

4. Don’t do things halfway; dive in deep. If something is worth trying, get the full experience of it.

5. Learn to play at least one musical instrument. It is a skill and a pleasure that you, your friends, and your family will enjoy forever.

6. Live within your means. Save up for things and pay for them outright. Debt creates pain.

7. Learn the difference between a want and a need. See #6.

8. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re thinking to me, to your friends, to your teachers, and to your future love interests. People often regret at the end of their lives the things that they didn’t tell their loved ones. So what if the feeling isn’t returned? Having your feelings known is important.

9. Travel now. Travel before you have children and other responsibilities that make it harder to do so.

10. Never stop dreaming. Always have a goal to be looking forward to, even if it is just to have a story published in the paper or to collect a donation for a shelter. Dreams and goals keep life meaningful.

From My Daughter:

file0006125650991. Having fun on Christmas vacation is more important than a perfectly clean Martha Stewart-esque bedroom.

2. I will NEVER need Geometry.  Like, ever.

3. Yes, it is important that a teenage girl has glitter, headphones, copious amounts of nail polish, and weekly trips to open skate with her friends.

4. Don’t buy Aeropostale gift cards for longer than a 1-year period because soon it will be Hollister that is cool –– but then also for only a year. Teenage fashion is fast and fickle. You cannot plan ahead.

5. You cannot buy me any item of clothing yourself. I must pick it out. Resistance is futile.

6. It’s embarrassing when you know the music that I listen to and you let my friends know it by humming along in the car when you’re driving us places.

7. Fifteen-year-olds make great babysitters as long as it is not their brothers they are babysitting; then, it is a form of hell on earth with constant tattling texts and calls from both parties to the mom.

8. I can eat my weight in any type of food and not gain a pound.  Grown-ups cannot do this.

9. You need a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie for EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE WEEK.

10. When I’m scared I’ll still call you “Mommy,” and I still want you to comfort me when I’m sad because I’ll always be your little girl. I still want you to hang out with me when I have no plans because, when no one’s looking, I think you’re pretty cool.

Jerri Sparks is a single mom (of three teens and one pre-teen) living in Western New York.  A former Congressional press secretary and a UCLA alum, Ms. Sparks now works in the BioPharma Research industry by day and is a freelance writer by night, advocating for the things she’s passionate about.  This may or may not involve Wonder Woman. Contact her at


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