Last night, I read a letter to my kids. It’s still easy to remember reading Twas the Night Before Kindergarten on the eve to Colton’s very first day of school 7 years ago. That night…we all huddled upstairs in his room. There were tears. That I know for sure. My voice choked half way through the book and I didn’t know if I could finish. And his eyes teared too. Last night was very similar. Except…what I read to them was more important. The words that I choked through held more value…a meaningful message for today…and the remainder of the school year. And they listened. Closely.
I’m thankful to another mother…who thought to write this letter to her son a few years back…and then give permission to take it, change the names, and pass it on. This will be a letter that we read and talk about often.
Dear Colton, Chase, Aiden and Annslee (when it’s your turn to start school),
Tomorrow is the big day. Seventh, Fifth and Third grade – WOW.
I want to tell you a story. A very important story. When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.
Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.
And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.
I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he may still remember me.
I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So, please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Babies…if you see a child being left our, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart-ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart-ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying,
“COLTON! CHASE! AIDEN! ANNSLEE! WAKE UP!!! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help!”
Whenever you feel compassion…be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you. And…that…is magic. It means He trusts you and He needs you.
Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.
Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do…but you can do hard things.
Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. you might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling. It is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help…please tell me. We will make a plan together.
When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying. I remember feeling compassion. But, I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have too.
Colton, Chase, Aiden and Annslee – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight A’s. We don’t care if the girls or boys think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or the best video games or the coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.
We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.
Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.
Trust me, it is. It is more important.
Don’t try to be the best this year.
Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher too. You belong to each other. You are 4 lucky kids…with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.
I love you all so much that my heart might explode.
Enjoy and cherish your gifts.
And thank you for being my favorite gifts of all time.
Chad then prayed with them for the coming year.
Then Annslee wanted to play Duck, Duck, Goose. I say…why not?
This morning came early.
The boy was nervous. I assured him that he was ready. This is what we spent all last year preparing for while home schooling.
And even though the puddin’ cup is staying home with me this year…she wanted to wear a “school” outfit anyway. So…she did.
Happy First Day of School. Go out into this big world and do you!
* thank you to www.momastery.com for permission to use that amazing letter.