A little girl was melting and screaming in agony. Her brother was trying to help her but couldn’t.
I showed Josie a movie of Hiroshima when she was about five years old. Mistake.
Josie woke up crying and hitting her pillow at three in the morning. I held her and talked her to sleep.
Stupid stupid me. Showing her that movie. (“Barefoot Gen”).
Lesson: don’t show little kids videos of other little kids melting in agony.
When I first got divorced I was broke. I was unhappy. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to be alone.
But the worst thing was thinking that when my daughters were crying, I wouldn’t be there to talk them to sleep.
I knew they would inherit it.
The overwhelming fear and anxiety that hit me at 3 in the morning every night for almost 40 years.
I spent last week with Mollie in London and Paris.
She asked to go with me on the trip. When will that ever happen again? Maybe never!
She had had a hard time recently and I wanted to give her a nice treat in return. So on a work trip, I took her.
Every kid has a hard time in life. It’s hard to figure out the rules of being an adult.
Because there are no rules but everyone (parents, teachers, friends, family, society, culture, Instagram “influencers”, media, etc.) tells you there are rules.
How do you teach someone there are no rules?
Rules of cool. Rules of health. Rules of “get a job or die”. Or “go to college or die”. Or “this is history. Believe this and nothing else.”
And I wasn’t going to teach her new rules. There’s no way to tell a teenager, “you can’t do this!” Or “you’re wrong”.
Mollie is wrong about everything. But so am I.
- Whenever I wanted to take a car, she said, “Let’s walk.” And I did.
- Whenever I found a good restaurant, she found a better one.
- Whenever anyone asked her, “What do you want to do?” She said, “I don’t know”.
- I read 1.5 books while we were away. I think she read three.
- She wrote more than me.
- I had to work a lot so she spent time exploring. More than I did.
- She started to come up with ideas about how her life could be bigger. “Maybe I can spend a summer here.”
- She refuses to go to “clown college”. “But it’s the only school that teaches real skills!”
- We spent hours sitting in bookstores. Getting lost while sitting right next to each other.
- We had one miserable experience getting from London to Paris. I apologized to her. She said, “I had fun” and she explained to me why.
- She came to my comedy/lecture/Q&A in London. “I learned a lot”.
- On the entire plane ride back she did homework so she wouldn’t have to stay up late the night before school. I slept and watched “Family Guy”.
When I grow up I want to be Mollie.
I cried when we landed and I hugged her goodbye.
But, for once, the future feels better to me than the past.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of ROMAN ODINTSOV.