The Mother Of All High School Graduation Advice Letters

Keep nude pictures of yourself off the Internet. Even Snapchat.
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This is a real letter I wrote to my daughter. It’s a tradition at her high school for parents to write a letter to their graduating seniors. This is my letter to her. BTW: “Lolo” is her grandmother.

My Dearest Boo,

I could run through a box of pens telling you how much I love you, how proud I am of you, and how excited I am for your future. Being your mother has been my greatest joy and the most important thing I will ever do in my life. You are a wonderful person — smart, kind, funny and talented. And I am a lucky mother.

But you already know that I think you’re pretty great. So instead of spending pages recounting your many virtues and getting all weepy and sappy, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to impart a little more motherly advice before you head off to college.

Mind you, this is not the last you will be hearing from me on these subjects and many others. Because, honestly, a mother’s work is never done. You will probably learn that first hand someday. But no time like the present to share my bountiful wisdom with you. Because, as you know, sometimes I am a freaking genius. So make yourself comfortable and read on.

Advice for Boo

Call your mother.

Or at least text your mother.

Keep wet towels off the bed.

Make sure you have plenty of toilet paper.

Take pictures of yourself.

Keep nude pictures of yourself off the Internet.

Even Snapchat.

Don’t tell Lolo about the nude pictures.

Check your email. Every day.

Travel whenever and wherever you can.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Help others when you can.

Wash new red clothes separately.

Keep your crap on your side of the room.

And don’t let your room get to the point where it looks like an episode of “Hoarders.”

You can never say “please” and “thank you” too often.

Sing. You have a gorgeous voice.

It’s ok to stalk Lena Hall — as long as you do it in a non-creepy way.

Pay attention to the syllabus.

Be the type of friend you want to have.

Never leave your drink unattended.

If you want a tattoo, wait six months. Then wait another six months.

If you still want a tattoo at the end of the wait, the optimal design is “Mom” with a heart.

Never, ever, get a tattoo of the name of your significant other. If you must, please wait until I am dead.

Experiences are way more valuable than things.

Don’t overdraw your bank account. The fees are brutal.

Call your mother.

Use the buddy system at parties.

Take risks.

Don’t take dumb risks with your physical safety.

When you’re in your room and not studying or sleeping, keep the door open. Especially when you first start school.

Sometimes, it can feel really cathartic to let loose with a string of swear words.

Pro tip — Check the area for children before you start to swear.

You don’t always have to have a plan.

Plans change.

Get your papers started early.

Did I tell you to call your mom?

Check the weather before you leave home for the day.


Flush. You’re not in California anymore.

Pay attention to the news.


Keep doing yoga.

No. You don’t want to pay for the extended warranty.

Don’t let the cute salesgirl talk you into buying stuff you don’t need.

I don’t care how cute she is.

Sometimes you need to cut your losses and move on.

You can’t change anyone else.

Coolness is overrated.

Everyone does embarrassing things sometimes.

That guy who calls you and tells you that he’s from Microsoft? He’s not from Microsoft.

Go to the theater as often as you can.

Call your mom and tell her about your trip to the theater.

If you’ve been drinking, don’t cut or color your hair until you’re sober. Lolo learned this lesson the hard way.


But I would prefer that you not get arrested. It’s a mom thing.

Remember that people love to talk about themselves.

Sometimes you will have to pretend you are interested.

Don’t be surprised if you miss home more than you expect.

You will fail at some things, sometimes.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Or that you are a failure.

There will be times when you will have to tell someone else to f*ck off.

Don’t tell your mother to f*ck off.

If you’ve been drinking or are worried about getting safely from one place to another, you can always charge your taxi/Uber/Lyft to me.

Don’t let your friends drive drunk. If necessary, I’ll pay for their taxi/Uber/Lyft, too.

Have a few go-to topics for small talk. Weather, news, pornography, etc.

A broken heart will mend with time. Keep yourself busy while it is mending. Crazy busy if necessary.

Don’t assume malice when ignorance is an option.

If you’re expecting visitors, make at least a half-assed attempt to make your bed.

For God’s sake — DON’T SMOKE!

Make an effort to eat meals with other people.

Eat fruits and veggies. But not other people.

I trust that second part could have gone without saying.

Take advantage of being so close to New York.

Remember that I’m not trying to be nosy or controlling, I just miss you and want to know how you’re doing.

OK. Maybe I’m trying to be a little controlling.

If you make a mistake (and you will), apologize. Sincerely.

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for the person you are forgiving.

Everyone feels weird and awkward at times. It’s just that some people are better at hiding it than others.

Fall for the geek.

Keep learning/practicing Spanish.

Pick your battles.

Learn when to say no. Repeat as necessary.

If it doesn’t exist yet, create it.

Keep your phone charged.

When in doubt, err on the side of formality.

If you’ve been drinking, drink a big glass of water before you go to sleep. Have ibuprofen and carbohydrates ready for the morning.

Despite appearances to the contrary, I’m not encouraging you to get drunk all that often, but it’s better to be prepared.

Unless you are a brain surgeon, perfection is overrated.

So is prestige.

Remember that if you fail to respond to your mom’s calls/texts for more than a day or two, your mom will assume that you are dead or being held hostage by a maniac.

Don’t do that to your mom.

Also, try not to be taken hostage by a maniac.

Work hard.

Have fun.

I love you. I’ll miss you.




This article was previously published on The Haven.

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