Important and Not-So-Important Things I Want to Tell My Kids, From A to Z

05/18/2015 09:45 am ET | Updated May 18, 2016
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Raise your hand if random things pop into your head at 2 a.m. that you want your children to know. (Hold on, let me put my hand down, because it's hard to type this way.) I've compiled some of mine and hope you might add your own advice in the comments.

Aging: Two of the greatest things about getting older are caring less about what other people think about you and thinking more of the people you care about.

Bathroom: Whether it's starting at a new school or a new job, beginnings are hard. You don't know people. You don't know what you are supposed to be doing. You don't even know where the bathroom is. My advice is to start there -- find out where the bathroom is. The rest will come with time.

Crowd: It's really easy to go along with the crowd, but it's not always the right thing to do -- especially when you are a teenager and some of your friends are, almost inevitably, idiots.

Defend: Stick up for causes you believe in. Stick up for people who need it. And don't forget to stick up for yourself.

Early: Do not arrive on time for job interviews and important meetings. Arrive early. Because then, if you're late, you're still on time.

Facebook: When someone you're close to shares bad news on Facebook, don't "like" it. Pick up the phone.

Grudges: If you wouldn't be able to explain why you're holding a grudge against someone to an impartial third party without sounding petty and pathetic, let it go. For what it's worth, a grudge mainly only bothers the person who holds it.

High School: It's actually a good thing if high school isn't that fun. You'll just have more to look forward to after graduation.

Inflexible: Convictions are one thing. Stubbornness is another. Don't be afraid to change your mind anytime, about anything and anyone.

Jokes: When you're in a crappy mood, don't underestimate watching a funny movie or a great comedian. Sometimes, it's just a temporary Band-Aid. Sometimes, it's an actual cure.

Kazoo: Learn to play an instrument. Unless you consider the kazoo an instrument. In that case, I'm not paying for your lessons.

Losing: When it comes to losing, do it graciously and spell it with only one "o." The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore "looser."

MTV: It probably goes without saying, but please don't star in a reality show on MTV, unless it's a program documenting the lives of scientists curing cancer.

"No": Be good at saying it and accepting it as an answer.

Observation: I am not the first to say this (because if I were, I'd open an Etsy store with T-shirts and mugs), but always remember, "This too shall pass." As a kid, I first heard this from my mom, who pointed out that those words could make a happy person sad and a sad person happy.

Plans: What doesn't go as planned often makes a good story. Sometimes it takes decades... says the girl who split her pants while playing kickball in the third grade.

Quiet: Learn to listen without judgment and without interrupting. Particularly when it comes to opinions and advice from your loved ones. You don't have to agree. You do, however, owe it to them to listen.

Rejection: I used to worry way too much about getting rejected. Don't. Getting rejected can't truly hurt you. Infection? Yes. (When in doubt, see a doctor!) But not rejection.

Social Media: I have only two words for you: Post wisely.

Try Not to Gossip: You will rarely regret the things you said, except when it comes to talking about people behind their backs. Try not to gossip, because a) it's mean and b) it may bite you hard in the butt one day.

Ugh: Be confident. Not cocky.

Venting: If you are mad at someone and want to vent over email, sleep on it before you hit "enter." Despite all of the advances in technology, you still can't wish away sent emails. Believe me, I've tried.

Wet Clothes: Unless you like the smell of mildew, don't leave wet clothes in the washing machine overnight.

Expiration Dates: Neither "thank you" nor "I'm sorry" have an expiration date. It's never too late to say either to someone. Speaking of expiration dates, check the ones on dairy carefully. (And yes, I'm aware that this one doesn't really start with an "X.")

Your Nails: Why does anyone do this in public? Please be aware that the time to trim your fingernails is not on a bus or train. The same, it should be said, goes for toenails.

Zippers: Rubbing a sharpened pencil over the teeth of a stuck zipper can help it become unstuck. It's a crying shame that "Z" comes at the end of the alphabet, because this is by far the most useful piece of advice I have to offer.

This list previously ran on the blog, Mammalingo.

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