Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it! I used to get so tired of listening to kids whine about how long someone else got to play on the swings. If you want to swing, tell the other kid to get off!
Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. When kids would ask me, "Is this good enough?" I would always say "NO!" If you have to ask, then it's not. If their feelings are hurt, sobeit; they haven't worked hard enough for any praise.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both. (see #6)
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. This made me laugh. I was always saying things like, "If you think I'm tough, wait until you get a job!"
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity. My kids' first job was shoveling sh*t cleaning up the backyard from what the dog deposited. We'd all laugh about how they could tell their own kids that they actually did shovel sh*t in their lives. We'd tell them everyone has to start at the bottom. (And yes, they got paid well for the chore.)
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them. This is a good one. One time we were studying Sound and the task I gave the kids was to make a musical instrument out of nothing. I showed them examples of attaching rubber bands to empty tissue boxes to make a guitar, putting dry rice in a tupperware bowl to make a percussion, banging pencils on coffee tins for drums, etc. One boy had his Dad make him a guitar with his table saw and fancy woodworking tools. The problem was that the guitar made no sound, so the kid ultimately got a bad mark on the assignment. All the other kids thought his "guitar" was so cool, but not I. He did not make it. The buck stopped at him, in my opinion.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. I don't think I've had a problem here.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. Here's another buggaboo to me. Our school used to have this argument all the time. There shouldn't be any awards at the end of the year. We need to change our A,B,C+,C,C-,D,F manner of grading, etc. And no one "fails" a year, they just continue on with extra help. I'd be tearing my hair out (in my head) and would suggest that "life isn't really like that and what would we be teaching the kids if we did this," etc. etc. But.....
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time. It's funny how kids think they get the whole summer off. Mine were out working even before it was legal for them to do so. There's all sorts of things kids can do. My younger daughter made up flyers, delivered them in our subdivision, and started up her own "Summer Vacation Pet Sitting" business. She ended up getting so many clients who had her even come to water the lawn and the inside plants along with caring for dogs and cats and birds.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs. See above.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one. So true. When I went to my 30th high school reunion, it wasn't the so-called "popular" kids who'd made it. It was the average guy/girl who had had to work hard in school and learned how to succeed. Nothing had come easy for them but they had made it in life!