Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What I wish I had told myself.

Me in the First Grade
Messages to a Li’l Mark

“If you could send a message to your younger self, what would you say?” That was the question of interest on last week’s “Mark and Cindy Show.”

Mark and Cindy Show? You know, the talk show on Lonestar Internet Radio at 10 on weekday mornings? Broadcast in downtown Conroe over by the Crighton Theater? Irlonestar.com? Right. Thaaaat talk show. Thanks for playing dumb, so I could get in that shameless promo.

Anyway, Cindy and I asked listeners to phone in or post comments on Facebook concerning the question about what message you might send to a younger you. I’d feel really bad about so few listeners responding were it not for the fact that I doubt I would’ve responded had I been a listener.

Trying to conjure some uplifting advice or maybe some words of warning that you could’ve used years ago can be a less than enjoyable endeavor. It has taken some of us years to bury all the mess that happened to us. Who wants to dig it all up again? Well, you don’t have to. Let me dig up mine, and I’ll share with you.

If I could go back and talk to a young me, I’d tell myself – Regardless of what you think, you are not the dumbest person on the planet. Yes, I realize that on the second day of school you were the only one at Garden’s Elementary who couldn’t remember where his classroom was or the name of his teacher. Hey, I was there at the time. That just means that on one morning you were the dumbest person at Garden’s Elementary. Not the dumbest person on the planet. See the difference?

When Daddy comes home from the refinery, you need to hug him. I know he’s not into hugging, but see if you can get him there. Dad is what you would call “depressed” and he’s got a load of stuff on his mind.  It would help him to know that his kids appreciate him. Won’t cure him, but it will help.

And, your Grandpa Hayter? This next summer when the family makes its annual trip to Bristow, Oklahoma, you need to act like you’re interested in what the man has to say. He genuinely enjoys talking with you, and it would mean the world to him if he thought you valued what he had to say. That old man loves you dearly.

Oh, and Mark, there is going to be a really slow kid in the second grade. He’s mentally ill and can’t help it. You need to take up for him. And, don’t laugh with the others behind his back, or else you’re going to feel bad about it forever.

There’s something called “puberty” that’s going to hit you. There’s nothing you can do about it. The reason no one tells you anything about it is ‘cause they don’t understand it either. Just know that you’re not the only one who experiences it. Yes, I know this is confusing. I’d explain it to you, but I don’t understand it myself. Remember – It’s not just you.

There’s coming a day when Mother will ask Jill and you which one turned on the water hose and made a mess of the backyard. Do not blame it on Jill. It was your idea, so own up to it. If you don’t, Jill will voluntarily take the blame and the spanking, and never utter a word about it. You’ll take the guilt to your grave.

When the neighborhood gang gets up the bright idea to walk to Red Bluff Fishing Camp, don’t go along with the idea. What Steve won’t tell you is that the place is about 25 miles away, and you’ll only make it to the five-mile mark. Then you’ll have to turn around and walk back home. Bad shoes, no water, ill fitting shorts… Just don’t do it.

When you get to junior high and high school, go ahead and take choir and drama. I know you think it’s for sissy boys, but it’s not. Yes, you’ll probably take a bit of razzing from the football team, but you’ll survive it. Who knows, you may encourage some of your teammates to get involved in choir and drama.

There are a few hundred other things I could tell you, but you’re not even going to listen to these few that I’ve shared. You’re a kid. Some stuff you’ve just got to learn the hard way. But, try to keep this in mind. -- The good and the bad things that happen to you are all a part of growing. It will make you who you are. It’ll make you – ME. No don’t look at me. You’re not going to like what you see.

Before I leave you alone, I do wish you’d do just this one thing for me. Would you please try to forget about me (the future you) and focus on The Now. You are the total of all of your moments. They may not seem all that precious to you at the time, but believe me, they are to be treasured. You’ll realize that when you get to me.


Mark@rooftopwriter.com and www.rooftopwriter.com and www.irlonestar.com.


  1. Wow Moke, great article. We should forgive everyone who did us wrong, because at the time they were doing the best that they could do. Your thinking that you were the dumbest person on the planet made to work very hard to become the smartest person that I know. I love looking at old pictures and wondering what if. You are correct, we are a summation of our lives, which makes up what we are today. Good article. I love you. -- jilly --

    1. Okay, now that kind of flattery I'll take any time. Thanks, Jill. And, I know you've forgiven me (even forgotten) about the mom and hose incident, but it still weighs on me. I can only hope that someone out there will learn from me not to do something that selfish. Love you, kiddo.

  2. Still enjoying your articles Mr. Hayter. My brother Mark notified me that they were online now. He recently moved backed to the Oak Ridge area, saw your article in the paper and then on the computer. Anyway, they are laugh-out-loud funny; better than ever! Keep 'em comin'! David 'former student' Scully

  3. Scully! It's great to hear from you, guy! Glad to hear that Mark moved back, just don't know where he moved from. Where you are? -- I wanted to thank you for some good memories of my teaching career. The name "Scully" always brings nice thoughts.-- Thanks for the kind words about the articles. Your old teacher appreciated hearing that. mark

    1. Hey! Glad you remember us! Its been a long time. I/we have done a lot of moving around; most recently from Alabama to the Mississippi gulf coast. Its nice to know you are doing well and sharing your humor and wisdom in the articles. So glad I can see them from anywhere now! Thanks. David