In my previous article, I spoke of the mad, mad world of DO and DOing.  The other side of the scale is DO NOT, more commonly known as DON’T!

Kids hear DON’T a lot. Now granted some of it is for our own good: don’t play with fire, don’t be mean to the puppy, don’t bite your aunt. Most of it is pretty standard stuff though: DON’t touch this, don’t go there, don’t play with that, don’t play with your food, don’t be late, don’t hit your sister, brother, don’t throw your food, don’t hang around with that kid, don’t come home late, don’t you dare say that to me….on and on. The book of don’ts that is passed down from generation to generation of parents. Not necessarily the most helpful don’ts, just the ones uttered most frequently.

You’d think that the DON’T  list eases up as we crash land into adulthood, but I am not so sure it does. We have pockets full, bags full, truckloads of don’ts.

DON’T have fun. DON’T waste time. DON’T be silly. DON’T ruin a good thing. DON’T worry. DON’T rent, buy. DON’T go there. DON’T tell me. DON’T block my view. DON’T park there. DON’T run away. DON’T skip meals. DON’T get fat. DON’T forget to remember everything. Do NOT pass go. DON’T say that. DON’T argue in front of the kids. DON’T rock the boat. DON’T forget to use your signal when crossing lanes. DON’T forget to pay the bills/wash the windows/put things away. DON’T buy that: it’s tainted by the fact of (fill in the blank). DON’T do that, it’s not green enough…on and on….and falling into a rant.

Having written that, however, I am coming to believe that between the time of childhood DON’TS and adult DON’TS is a mix of pre-adolescent and adolescent I WILL DO WHAT I WANT, when I want, how I want, with whom I want; say what I want. It’s that amazing and obnoxious period of time and behaviour of growing upness that is so well portrayed and played up and amped up on reality TV.  I wonder if that time period is growing, too: once upon a time it was between the ages of 11 – 17(ish)  Now, if what I overhear on the street, in the cafes, at shopping malls, within my own family and what’s on television, Facebook, blogs, websites and tweets are any indication, I’m guessing that this period of time is between the ages of 9 – 32.  Either that, or our ability to truly get the impact of our words and actions is shrinking. (Tell me it isn’t so).

So going with the flow, I have a list of DON’TS for that group…and this is a BROAD brush: there are those in this band of inbetweeners who are not anywhere near like what I am writing about. that said, and recognizing that it is unlikely any eight year olds are reading this…here goes:

DON’T get caught up in your own press. While you are a unique individual, the fact is we all are. It might be hard to factor that into your thinking but remember, the centre of the universe is a spot far, far away from earth. That is NOT you.

DON’T believe your parents’ press either. Just because you were raised with a camera recording your every move, every sound, every laugh — SPECIALLY if you are a firstborn — does not mean everyone is watching you, waiting with bated breath for every pearl, giggle, chortle, and inanity that falls from your lips. They aren’t.

DON’T think you won’t get criticized. You will. Most of it is unwarranted so ignore it. But if your parents were of the positive parenting types, they have done you a huge disservice in aiding your ability to get along in the world. At a minimum, they certainly did not anticipate the law of unintended consequences: performance reviews! Imagine being told that there are areas where you can improve?

DON’T be surprised if you actually have to talk to someone sometime. After tweeting, twirping, texting, you MIGHT have to face someone, and talk. Your vocal chords should be in good order after all that singing to songs, calling out, shouting out, yelling out, and all round. You might not know what to do with words that are not pushed through a keyboard, but just like the baby you once were, full sentences WILL eventually come out.

DON’T wear clothes that don’t fit. It is just rude to run across the street with your pants around your ankles or holding your skirt down so it doesn’t show your behind.

DON’T think you are the only person in the world. It is just rude to talk into that freaking cell phone in the store and say, well, honey, I’m looking at the bean section now…do you want any?  or Oh my god, I know!!!   Or, “Ya baby, let’s close that deal!   Most conversations are boring and loud, intrusive unnecessary and if you weren’t sending many decibels across the aisles or clothing racks, or on the street, I would not care. Please, go to a corner make that life and death call and talk quietly. The when you get into your vehicle, drive as if there truly are others around you: the roads were NOT built just for you.

DON’T stop questioning authority, pundits, know-it-alls and any convention, including corporate anything, education everything, and PR/marketing/culture slaves most of all.  And for those in the swatch that are at the edge and able to be subtle, smart, and under-the-radar-savvy, DON’T forget about the cool factor of stealth niceness and manners as you do it.


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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