Thursday, June 14, 2007

Passing it on to your kids...

This is an article from Men's Health Magazine extolling the virtues of inheritance from father to son; be it fiscal, emotional or mental. I thought I would give my two cents on the subject.

If you want to pass on something to your kids, try these 23 tools for living that'll endure long after you're dead.

By: Hugh O'Neill

1. A lucky number. Long before Jordan sanctified it, number 23 was lucky just because Dad said it was. He'd look for it everywhere. Forty years later, his grandchildren fill the lane on the break wearing the number he decided was theirs. Memories accrete around specific things. #22 is an easy number for Rachel and I to pass along. Unfortunately, to teach him this number we would also need to teach him how to gamble. It's not just 22, but 22 black. It was also worth $720.

2. A passion for tax-free growth. Screw the college fund! With the way Social Security is heading, I'm setting up his Roth account next year! We'll also send him out to Phoenix with Uncle Jared for one week a year: Fiscal Responsibility Summer Camp. Every 6-year-old's dream!

3. About $3,000. An inheritance cuts your kids' ambition in half, robs them of the satisfaction of making their own way, and keeps them from lessons this worth learning. So you spend it. Finally, an inheritance I can afford to pass down! As a side-note, can you imagine if the author was your dad? How would it feel to read this? Takes a lot of cahones to inform your kid he'll only be receiving $3000, ESPECIALLY right before father's day.

4. A team to love. It's a durable pleasure, best passed from father to child. My son was born a Buckeye. He will be a poisonous nut for life. If his cousin Henry is any indication of possible devotion, he'll do just fine. When driving by the Horseshoe on 315 South, Henry points to the stadium and says "Brutus lives there." Amen.

5. A team to hate. Despising a team--with all the venom you can muster and for no discernible reason--is a gift that gives life shape. Death to the Astros! How can you hate the Astros when there is a Michigan in the world?

6. A will. And prearrange a really, really, really inexpensive funeral, too. Rule: Money is best spent on people who are alive. Done and done. Viking funerals are pretty inexpensive, yes?

7. Love of country. The quiet, grateful kind. In about a year and a half, he will (elections permitting).

8. A decent carving knife. He's all yams and applesauce right now, but I guarantee you we'll have him barbecuing on the Weber in two year's time. [idea for the toy market: Weber grill ala an Easy Bake Oven]

9. A dented wheelbarrow. Associate yourself with stupid donkey work, as in moving this stuff that's here, over there. I think I can manage. Associating "daddy" with a stupid ass will never be a problem.

10. A fragment of inspiring verse. Memorized, so they'll always have it when they need it. You should always have a toast at the ready, regardless. I've always enjoyed, "May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live." He will also know Sinatra's Summer Wind.

11. Stories of your screwups. In the interest of less pedestal, more human, be sure they've heard tale of your greatest misses. Do I get bonus points since most of these so-called screwups have been put on film for posterity's sake? Tenzin won't just hear about them, he'll get play-by-play, picture-by-picture analysis!

12. A holy book. Your copy of the Bible or Torah, if either has sustained you. Your Huck Finn or Heart of Darkness, if you're of a literary cast. An atlas of the world around which a pilgrim is free to roam. Triple book score! I have a bible that was printed by Lonely Planet Productions for tours of religious holy lands, edited by Mark Twain. First edition. Autographed.

13. Enthusiasm for two movies: one stupid, one stirring. Say, Caddyshack and Braveheart. While I enjoy watching stupid movies, I REALLY enjoy watching Rachel watch stupid movies. She'll laugh so hard that she develops this loud, inhale laugh. I liken it to Louis Skolnick on Revenge of the Nerds. Tenzin will definitely grow to appreciate it as much as I do. As for serious flicks, there are too many to list.

14. A tattered road map. An old-fashioned, service-station map of a region you've traveled a lot with the family. It should have a few words scribbled on it, a couple of routes highlighted in yellow. Some of the crease lines should be torn from wear. No son of mine will ever be caught dead with a map, for we are men.

15. A baseless prejudice in favor of a particular make of car. Everybody knows that [fill in name of car manufacturer here] makes the best cars on the road. Period. End of story. You can't beat a Honda. Actually you can beat it, but it'll kick you out of the car and drag you on the pavement for 185,000 miles...without an oil change.

16. A family catchphrase. A brief yelp that captures your take on life and can invoke your spirit long after you're dead. More in the manner of "Onward!" than "Life's a bitch, then you die." Right now it's just "D'oh," but I'm working on that. He will, however, never ever say, "Because that's how I roll." Ugh.

17. Respect for baby steps. Most work gets done an inch at a time. Teach them to just break ground. The Guinness must fully settle before you can sip it. If it is still cloudy with bubbles, wait another 2 minutes. Same goes for Boddington's, Speckled Hen, Beamish, and Murphy's.

18. A coat. Barn jacket, tweed topcoat, or camo hunting shell, there's something warm about the old man's coat. I bought my wedding tux for a reason...Unfortunately for Tenzin he will need to be incredibly out of shape to wear it, given my bastion physique.

19. A patented shot. You put the hoop up in the driveway, didn't you? Tell me you did, Dad. Name your unique fall-away jumper (The Dagger) or sky hook (Death from Above). Even memories require marketing. My patented shot? The Crown Royal. You shoot the ball with legs crossed, propped up on top of a cooler, lounging in your Ohio State folding chair. Can also be made from a hammock. If you miss the shot, you have to shoot three more...and so on...and so on...and so on...

20. U.S. savings bonds. They seem the very symbol of hope. Aunt Cindy's already got him covered. She knows we're too guilty to spend it if it has his name on it.

21. A handwritten description of a happy day. So what if you're not Tolstoy? Scribble a few contented lines about that 16th of October and stash it in your desk for postdeath discovery. The author got it's actually the 15th of October. And Tenzin can read Mom and Dad's vows whenever he's old enough. My son will be a romantic.

22. A pleasure in people. Some get annoyed that people are so odd; lucky folks know that's the fun part. Oh, trust me...he's already Secretary of Oddville, Treasurer of Peculiarland, and Governor of Crazytown. Our house is one clowncar short of being called a circus.

23. A maintenance jones. If they see you changing the oil in the driveway, they'll learn to get more service from their stuff and have deeper friendships. If he wants to learn how to make a problem more expensive, he can watch me work on the car. For now, I think we'll leave #23 for Uncle Jonathan.

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