People always say that middle kids get lost in the shuffle. That’s why I’ve tried extra hard, with my own middle kid, to make sure his birth order was never a detriment. Towards that end, we’ve gone on trips, just he and I, to places as far-flung as Kenya. Both of us share a passion for travel, the more exotic the better.
That middle kid, Ben, isn’t really a kid anymore. He’ll turn 17 this week. His older brother, off at college, is 20. His pesky “little” sister is a sassy teenager herself, at 14.
These days, Ben is taller than I am. He also works harder to get what he wants than anyone I know. He’s generous to a fault. He prefers his dad’s cooking to mine — as does just about everyone — and likes his sister a lot more than he’s willing to admit.
Yes, Ben, you’re one smart teenager. But as you enter your 17th year, here are 17 things I want you to know.
1. Life can turn on a dime.
My grandparents, your great-grandparents, died instantly in a car accident so I speak from experience. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Never take anything for granted. Be grateful and tell your loved ones you love them — every chance you get.
2. Read The Economist every week.
Make knowing what’s going on in the world a priority.
3. Don’t hold a grudge.
There have been times when I’ve been slow to forgive, and it’s nearly destroyed some pretty important relationships. You’ll learn over time that most things that may seem absolutely outrageous in the moment are quickly forgotten. Everyone makes mistakes. You make mistakes too. The worst thing you can be is judgmental.