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a letter to my son
by sloan b. bayles

I caught myself the other day watching you while you were hanging out with your friends and found myself awed by you. Okay, okay, so I eavesdropped a little. I’ll probably always reserve the right to invoke my “mother’s prerogative”. I’m so impressed with your sense of right, and your fearlessness in standing up to your peers. Of course, I’d like to take partial credit for this wonderful character trait, but I give all the credit to you. You’re going to be such an amazing man. You’ve always been an amazing son.

I turned my head, just for a minute, and now I’m looking into the eyes of a teenager. It seems just a little while ago you were my baby boy. Full of smiles and giggles, and you’ve always had a laugh that comes from deep down. I still remember the first time you really laughed. I remember the first time you held your head up, and I’m sure to this day the people around me that afternoon at the food court in Crabtree Valley Mall still think I had lost my mind. I was so ecstatic. Your first laugh, first steps, first words, all of your firsts I carry in my heart, they are my own personal memory book, and I can look at it anytime I want. You’ve got a lifetime of firsts ahead of you.

I’ve wanted to write this letter to you for a long time. When I first thought about doing it, years ago, I felt I needed to include some magical pearls of wisdom, some kind of deep philosophical lesson, and didn’t really feel at the time I had any to offer. Not that I necessarily do now, but I’ve also figured out that leading by example is the best way to impart to you what I want you to know. I haven’t and won’t always live up to it, and neither will you, but don’t be distraught by that. Failings in themselves are a lesson. Sometimes, the best lessons. Some things I want to tell you will be cliché, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

Be bold with your endeavors. Find your passion and make it your reality. Anything worth having truly is worth fighting for. And fight you will have to in this world, but I pray always it will be just figuratively.

Stand up for yourself and your beliefs. There’s nothing wrong with having a completely different opinion than someone else. Don’t allow someone to invalidate your opinion just because it’s different. By the same token, it doesn’t make their opinion any less just because it’s different than your own. Hold true to your beliefs, but always be willing to hear the views of others. You’ll gain a broader perspective, and maybe even change your view.

Always keep your kind heart. You’ve always had a tenderness about you that I hope you never lose. There’s nothing wrong with being a gentle man. You have such a keen insight into other people’s feelings. That’s such a wonderfully amazing quality to possess. The world you are inheriting is full of such strife and hatred. People with the capacity of caring and understanding seem to be in relative short supply. Stay your gentle course.

Money may make the world go ‘round, but it can’t buy happiness. Okay, so that was a two ‘fer. I’m not telling you money isn’t important, just don’t let the pursuit of it blind you to the truly important things. Your family and your friends are what will comfort you. They, not your stock portfolio, will be with you while you create your fondest memories, and they will be the ones to help lead you out of your darkest times. A bankbook doesn’t hug you back.

You have a wicked wit. You come from a long line of smart asses, and you already carry the torch well. Thanks for the many times you’ve reminded me and Dad to be nicer to you, ‘cause you’ll be the one taking care of us when we’re old. A good sense of humor will help you through bad times. Always remember, you’ve got to be able to laugh, even if it’s at yourself.

You are so fiercely protective of your family and friends. I still chuckle, and feel a warmth around my heart, remembering that ever since you could talk you wouldn’t go to sleep without knowing where everyone was. If they weren’t home yet, when would they be home? My little worrywart.

You’ve been able to have such a wonderful support system encircle and protect you since the moment you came into the world, and I’m unbelievably grateful for that. I want you to know how proud I am of you, and of the person I see you becoming. You’ve never had to doubt if you were loved, and you never will. And by the way, you’re still my baby boy.


A native Californian still dealing with the culture shock of having lived in Louisiana. I happily escaped to North Carolina. Wife, mother, and corporate world worker bee who is convinced all three of these have lead to my premature gray hair. The only thing I write professionally are honey-do lists.

more about sloan b. bayles


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juli mccarthy
6.3.04 @ 12:54a

AWWW! This is just lovely. I have one just like him, only mine's a girl. So let me add this little tidbit of motherly advice to the list you've presented here: when talking to a girl, please remember that her eyeballs are not anywhere in the vicinity of her boobs. Remembering this will save you LOTS of grief.

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