Free Falling

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WOELK
Dear Jordan,


Welcome to the adult world. Today you take a giant step toward becoming a man…at least on paper. It seems like only yesterday I was rocking you in my arms, feeding you, changing your diapers and gazing at you in wonder.


While much has changed over the years, I still look at you, now a full 6-feet, 3-inches tall, with wonder. Where has the time gone?


When you were just a baby, and I would consider your future, this day seemed so far away. The responsibility of being your father, of doing all I could to help you choose the right path to adulthood, seemed overwhelming back then. Certainly, I was scared.


To be quite honest, I’m still scared. But, you know what? I’m learning that the time is rapidly approaching when I will have to let you go. This will be, after all, your senior year in high school.


I struggle to give you the space you need to grow into yourself. I know, however, that if I don’t give you the chance to make decisions on your own-even if they are wrong and result in mistakes-you will take it on your own.


I’ve been lucky through the years, exceedingly lucky. You have proven to be trustworthy and a young man of strong character. For those things, I thank you. Though I may have appeared to you at times to be disappointed in you, I have always been proud to call you my son.


I hope you can understand that when I have sought to correct you, I have done so out of love and a sincere desire to be the best father I could be. I realize I have not always made the right calls, and I appreciate your willingness to see things my way from time to time.


So, now what? This year holds the potential for some very big changes in your life. Graduation, college applications and ACT tests all loom on the horizon for you.


I want you to know that your mother and I want to help in any way we can, whether it be supporting you in your decision making or actively serving as counselors.


Though our parenting role is likely to change, we still want to be an important part of your life.


Toward that end, I would like to offer you the following advice, based on my 24 years of quasi-adult living. There’s always the outside chance that you might be able to avoid a mistake I made along the way.


You only get one chance to make a good first impression. If that seems unfair, consider how difficult it is to give someone you just met, and were not impressed with, a second chance.


If a deal seems too good to be true, you can be sure it is. There is no way, short of a hunger strike, to lose weight without exercising. A paint job that costs 40 bucks will not last very long. A car dealer will never lose money on a sale. Get everything in writing.


When it comes to borrowing money, interest really adds up. No money down is not necessarily to your advantage. Always read the fine print.


There’s no such thing as a sure bet. If, however, you are watching a baseball game with a buddy, and the count on the batter goes full, statistically there is better than an 85 percent chance the next pitch will be a foul ball.


Some day in the future, as you contemplate marriage, don’t even consider the potential for divorce. If you look at it as an option going into a relationship, it creates the illusion that marriage might not be a lifelong commitment. Strive to become one of the 25 percent or so of two-parent, traditional American families that still remain.


Pay close attention to what your father is like as he grows older. Chances are, you eventually will be very much like him. Lucky for you, in your case, that’s a good thing.


Which brings me to my most important piece of advice: never lose your sense of humor. Our ability to laugh at ourselves is one of the most precious gifts God has given us. I have truly loved the times we have just been hanging out, enjoying some humorous situation.


Some sour people will really try to drag you down with them. Don’t let them.


Love,


Dad

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