Nate and Annie October 2014About 15 years ago, my sister sent me an email with a humorous list of children’s books that never made it.  The list included book titles like “You’re Different and That’s Bad,” “Games You Can Play in an Old Refrigerator,” and “Daddy Drinks Because You Cry.”  My favorite title among these humorous titles was “Strangers Have the Best Candy.”

When my daughter was a teenager, she and her best friend liked to go to the park that’s about a block and a half from our house.  As they left for the park, I’d remind them to be careful when they cross the streets and “don’t talk to strangers”.  They listened the first few times, but eventually it became old and they would roll their eyes and say “We know, we know.”  So one day, instead of saying to them “don’t talk to strangers,” I said “Remember, strangers have the best candy.”  

This caught their attention.  So much so, that years later there are few things that I have said that my daughter has remembered so clearly or repeated as often.  She tells everyone that her dad told her that strangers have the best candy.

Today, I’d like to offer a few quotes and saying that I hope my daughter will remember as much as “Strangers Have the Best Candy” – but I’m not sure that’s possible.  These are things I hope she will remember.

  1. John Shedd said “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”   When my daughter was young, we knew where she was and kept an eye on her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  She was safe.  But that not what she was born for.  When she was in preschool, she used to hang upside down on the monkey bars and give her parent’s heart failure..  She needs to continually find the next set of monkey bars to hang upside down from.  Hanging upside down on monkey bars isn’t safe, but that’s being safe is not what she was born for.
  2. There’s an English proverb: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”  She has already navigated through some rough seas and is now a much more skilled sailor than when she started here.  Every time I talk to her I see new skills; new abilities.  Throughout her life, she will, at times, face rough seas, but she is a more skilled sailor now and she will continue to develop your skills.
  3. Jim Rohn said that for 6,000 years, spring has followed winter and that we all have personal winters but they are all followed by spring.  Remember that when it is cold and dark, there will be a new spring and a new beginning.  After every long, harsh, difficult winter comes spring and a new start.  But Jim Rohn also cautions that summer follows spring, fall follows summer and winter follow falls.  So we know that other winters will come, so when things are going well, remember another winter will come.  But the most important thing is to remember spring always follows winter.
  4. The strength is the struggle an it’s a corollary strength comes from the struggle.  You don’t get stronger hiking down hills, you get stronger hiking up hills.  It’s the struggle that build strength and builds endurance.  For a long time, I’ve said that Kelly Clarkson’s song “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” reminds me of my daughter and I remember Kelly Clarkson has a more modern version of Freidrich Nietzche’s “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  I’m not sure my daughter always believed me when I said that but I hope that she does now.  She have conquered many challenges that she has faced and is much stronger now and ready to face the next winters, and we know they are coming.
  5. Remember the Japanese proverb “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”  When my daughter was 5 or she played soccer on a field where parents were along the sidelines and were asked to kick the ball to keep it in play.  One parent was about 10 feet and kicked it hard and it hit my daughter in the face.  She continued playing but didn’t want to play the next week.  It was hard, but she had to work up to get back on the field, but she did.  And she has gotten up every time she has fallen down up every time since then.  In a similar vein, Albert Einsten said “You never fail until you stop trying.”  She has have never stopped trying.  As her parents, we have fallen down seven times and we have gotten up eight.  We have been and won’t be perfect, but we won’t stop trying.  And neither will she.
  6. When we went on family vacations, we used to listen to Bill Cosby and especially enjoyed when he talked about Noah.  There’s one part when Noah is getting frustrated with his job and starts complaining about some of the animals, being ridiculed by his neighbors and the mess at the bottom of the ark.  Noah says he’s going to take the ark and let all the animals go.  Then it starts raining.  And my daughter would always remember what Noah said next.  “Just you and me, right Lord, just you and me.”  And I hope my daughter remembers that whenever it starts raining, “Just  you and us. Just you and us.”  We will always be with her. 
  7. When Ellen and I got married, one of the readings at our wedding was from Robert Fulgram’s book, “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” and it included great advice like:
    • Share everything
    • Play fair.
    • Don’t hit people.
    • Put things back where you found them.
    • Clean up your own mess.
    • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody; and
    • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

As my daughter goes out into the world, I hope she knows that we are going to hold hands and stick together.   And always remember than strangers have the best candy.