I said some of these things to my two daughters, now grown. Some of these things I wish I had said.
To be self-confident. That she can make her way through anything life dishes out. Never give up hope. When things are black, hold on. Light will come. (But then it will get dark, then light, then . . .) Just hold on and she will triumph. Eventually. No matter what. If it’s not as she wishes it to be, it’s not yet the end.
How to whistle REALLY LOUD with her fingers. This will amaze bystanders and come in handy when she needs to get someone’s attention, especially her future husband or children, should she one day have either.
How to think and act like a guy when needed. The feminine stuff will come naturally. The often goofy male mind is a mystery, even sometimes for a man. A good and faithful guide can take the terror out of this terra incognito.
That when she has a serious boyfriend who may become her husband, her dad expects the boy must worship the ground she walks on. Anything less is less than acceptable. Likewise, her to him. You are worth the world, daughter. Never sell yourself short.
How to laugh, especially at herself. It’s okay to be silly. Dads should demonstrate. Belching on command, for instance, will fill people with shock and awe. Well, maybe not awe. This is a skill she may wish to reserve for special friends who have an earthy sense of humor. Otherwise the awe inspired will be more like, “Awwww? What is wrong with her?!”
To question authority. Respect it, but question it. If it doesn’t square with what she knows to be true, go with the Truth.
That she can do things for herself. A vice grip, screwdriver and hammer will fix anything, and duct tape is her friend.
That unconditional love is hers. No matter what she does to the car or anything else, she can always come home. She will always be loved by her dad, who is always in her corner.
That if someone criticizes her, she should listen to what they say and act on it, if she judges them correct. But she should never let anyone diminish her. Have a thick skin.
In the end, it all comes down to showing her that the way to have a successful life is to love God by loving her neighbor as herself. And that those are not empty words. They are actions. As far as I can tell, the point to life is to learn how to love. That’s the whole enchilada, the reason we’re here, to figure that out. The quicker you get that, the better off you are.
“Sweetie,” I’d say, "Love as deeply, intensely and broadly as you can. The deeper, the broader, the better. Help others do that, too, and life is good. Honest. That is how you become successful in life. That’s how you become hyper-alive, with a smile on the inside of your face.
“Do it, do it, do it.”
— John Monczunski is a freelance writer who for many years was an associate editor of this magazine. He is the father of Julia Monczunski ’02 and Laura Monczunski ’07.