1. Do not hesitate to question authority, especially when it seems crucial to do so. Some of the greatest things to ever happen anywhere at any time have been spawned by a person’s inability to blindly accept the status quo passed down by their elders or “superiors.” Do not hesitate especially when the subject matter covers something as important as religious, political or ethical beliefs.
  2. Speaking of authority… for your formative years, your mother and I will be your principle authoritarian figures. Listen to us, please, because whatever we’re telling you or ordering you to do comes from a place of unconditional love, and we are trying to teach you things in earnest about the world we live in and how one is supposed to behave and/or excel in such a bizarre climate. You may have noticed that I said “listen to us,” and not “obey us.” I’ve always held hope that my son or sons would question every little f**king thing, just like their old man eventually learned to do.
  3. I promise I will stop writing about authority after this one: remember that just because someone is older than you does not mean that you must listen to them, and it does not mean that you have to automatically respect them. In this world, you have to earn things. Money is one of them. Respect is another. The latter is almost always more important, and will eventually lead to more money if you play your cards right.
  4. When I said “play your cards right” I did not mean to imply that you should become a professional poker player. Don’t do that. You’ll find much more stable and lasting success if you rely on your talents and luck instead of just luck on its own.
  5. The ability to read and digest information is one of the greatest gifts your mom and I could have ever supplemented. You will not appreciate the hours I made you spend on sunny days working the Hooked On Phonics regimen, and you will not believe me at first when I often express to you how important books and stories are to you and society at large. But someday you’ll understand why I made you read, and why I always maintained that stories are an unfathomably important piece of human existence. Ask your grandparents if you don’t believe me. They taught four kids how to read and embrace the power of escape through words.
  6. Tattoos are forever. In some cases, it can be easier to dissolve a marriage than to remove one. So don’t over-think it if you’re thinking about inking yourself up. Just like you don’t want to over-think a marriage.
  7. Over-thinking things may seem like a problem that you have. If so, it’s something genetic I passed down to you. Sorry about that. But embrace it the best you can, because trust me—you cannot escape it.
  8. Refuse to ever be ashamed of the things that you like to consume and do. (Unless of course these things are illegal in a way that harms people or society. Like, if you enjoy killing animals, don’t do that. Come talk to me. We’ll figure it out.) If you like things the popular kids in your class think are weird, like reading comic books, playing Dungeons & Dragons or making out with members of the same sex, then GO AHEAD AND LIKE THAT STUFF. And don’t be ashamed of it, or try to hide it. (But also don’t post a bunch of gratuitous Facebook statuses about it either. Have some dignity, dude.)
  9. The absolute best thing you can do if somebody is ever harassing you, saying mean things about you or attempting to engage you physically, is to LAUGH. Nothing else in the world simultaneously pisses a person off and renders them briefly incapable of rational thought than when you laugh at them when they are attempting to project some serious rage on you. If this backfires and you find yourself being pummeled in the grill, then I urge you to stay the course. You’ve come this far.
  10. No matter what, always keep laughing. And if you can make others do that, then do it as often as you can. It’s a hustle, but a very noble one.
  11. If you ever start to feel like maybe you understand women, prepare yourself for an onslaught of women-related problems you feel you will never ever be able to comprehend. Accept that this is the norm, and that you will likely go through this same thing again, albeit in different circumstances.
  12. Wear sunscreen.
  13. The things you like to wear now will become very unfashionable sooner than you think. Keep these clothes, because they will come back into vogue about 20 years later, and if you are too square then to rock them you can make a lot of bank selling them to people like Pharell.
  14. Please know that you are never alone.
  15. Get loved. Make more. Try to stay alive.