To my son Tommy,
Your father is a bitter pill. I am blunt, direct, forward, and often harsh or downright abrasive. I used to rationalize this as I have the necessary lack of tact for the occasion rather than I lack the necessary tact. I used to think this served me well and was a good thing born from experience.. Years of being too nice or too easy going often got me walked on, taken advantage of, or taken for granted. As I grew and extended my practical contact with people, I learned where to remain guarded, and untrusting, and firm, and harsh, and demanding, and unforgiving. I no longer consider it a positive.
I have come to realize you can be nice and firm at the same time. You can be pleasant and easy in your manners and ways while still being mostly direct. You get more flies with honey. Sweeter words are easier to swallow just in case you have to eat your words. "No thank you" is as just as effective as "NO! That is stupid! Not now! Not ever!" Now the key is putting this realization into action. That is much easier said than done in my age. When you have been burned so many times before over forty one years, you get set in your ways.
But this is not how I want you to grow up. I want you to be gentle and sweet and nice, like you are now. In order for you to stay that way, I know I have to change my ways, because example is the most powerful teacher. I want you to learn that nice isn't always saying yes, and no doesn't mean you have to be harsh. I am not saying abandon what you know to be correct (which I do occasionally, much to my later dismay) but just be nice about how you go about explaining why it needs to be done that way. I want you to have patience when you teach, and patience when you have to explain something over and over. I want you to learn to sway people to your thinking rather than ramming what you think is right down their throat. Basically, I want you to learn to be the quintessential Irishman and have the ability to tell someone to go to hell and look forward to the trip. Don't let life change you for the worse my son. Don't grow up to be a grumpy jaded old man like your dad who only wants to tell you once and has no time for people who can't see what is "right" right away. Be kind. Be gentle. Be loving. Inspire people to be better people. Inspire other people to be kind. Maybe then, this world will have a chance.
Sincerely with love from your dad,