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Advice for graduates

Published June 12. 2010 09:00AM

My nephew, Zachary Huber, graduated from Palmerton High School on Monday night.

I can't believe he's 18 years old and ready to start the next phase of his life!

I see this cute little guy in a Dale Earnhardt jumpsuit sitting on his grandfather's lap. I beamed with pride as I watched him play Little League baseball and soccer. (We just had the honor of seeing him play as goalie in the Colonial All-Stars soccer team on Sunday night and they won!)

When Zach grew to be 6 foot tall and wearing size 13 shoes, we called him "Sasquatch" (Big Foot.) He does this hilarious imitation of a Sasquatch supposedly caught on video. And if we get him in the right mood, he'll do his Panda dance for us.

I love his goofy sense of humor, like fitting his 6-foot frame on his old Little Tikes banana-looking riding toy and coasting down the hill in front of my house last summer.

Zach plans to attend Lehigh Carbon Community College in the fall.

I wish him well and hope he lives out his dream of someday working for a professional soccer team.

I would love to have some sage advice for Zach and all other graduates, to help them adjust to life after high school. Fortunately, someone beat me to it. I added a little bit of Linda to them.

Advice You Never Learned in School from the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes.

RULE 1: Life is not fair; get used to it.

(If Life was fair I would be thin, beautiful and have 16 books on The New York Times Best-Sellers list. But Life is what I make of it, so I can't complain.)

RULE 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

(No more trophies just because you're on a team and didn't win the championship. Winning now will be when you set a goal for yourself and you accomplish it.)

RULE 3: You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both.

(And you may not make 40 thousand dollars 40 years out of high school. And you may not be a vice president ever. But you've got a cell phone already, so two out of three's not bad and you're only 18!)

RULE 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

(Bosses are a dime a dozen but when you get a great one, he/she is one in a million. Appreciate him/her.)

RULE 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.

(Most of the accomplished people in this world, started at the bottom and worked their way up. Why should you think you're any better?)

RULE 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

(Take responsibility for your failings. You're not grounded because your parents failed to empty the trash. You're not getting into the college of your choice because you're parents failed to score better grades in high school. Wake up! Get with the program!)

RULE 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills; cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

(Someday you'll realize what great people your parents are. It's sad you can't see it now because they really could use a little pat on the back after actually getting you through these first 18 years of your life with relatively little scarring.)

RULE 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

(Boy, are you going to be surprised!)

RULE 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

(Real life begins the moment you're finished with school. You can pay your own electric, telephone, insurance, rent/mortgage, car payments and be as "boring" as you think your parents are. Welcome to the World!)

RULE 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

(And video games are NOT real life. When you fall off the cliff, or someone aims a gun at you, you usually die instead of restarting.)

RULE 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

(It's a proven fact that the guys with pocket protectors and glasses with arms taped are running the world today. I encouraged Becky to date them but did she listen to her mother? Of course not. Did I? Of course not. Will you? Of course not.

So all the advice I give you today is just words on paper. You'll got out there, do your own thing, make your own mistakes, accomplish what you accomplish with exactly what you are willing to put into it.

But Zach, and all you other graduates, please consider following this piece of advice. No matter what you do in life, do it with humor and kindness. Remember that truth taught to us in the Bible-"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Now go out there and conquer the world! But do it kindly.

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