Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Back-to-School Letter

Dear Goliath,

Tomorrow is a big day for you!  You will go to your first day of sixth grade, your first day of middle school.  I can hardly believe that the time that we have talked about for so long is finally here!  I can hardly believe that I will take Little Middle and Baby to the elementary school in the morning without you....sniff.

What I really want to say to you here has nothing to do with sappy mom feelings, though.  I want to tell you something that is very important about the adventure that you are about to begin.  For as long as I can remember, when I have tucked you in to bed at night, we have said your prayers together and I have thanked God for making you "strong, smart, and special."  I believed it when you were a tiny little guy in a crib, and I believe it now that your feet are bigger than mine and you are going to middle school.

I'm pretty sure--in fact, I know--that lots of other moms believe that same thing about their sons and daughters.  And I want you to remember that when you encounter other kids at your new school.  You will have plenty of opportunities to make new friends, or at least a lot of new acquaintances.  Every single person you are in class with deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.  Every individual that you see in the hallway was created by God--same as you--and that alone makes him/her very special.  Every kid that stands in the lunch line near you or shares a locker in your hall needs someone to be their friend.  I don't mean that you should be best buddies with every person you see.  That would be impossible!  Just be mindful, sweet son, that sometimes yours might be the only smile that another student sees.  Your kind word, even if it is a simple "hello", might be the only nice thing one of your classmates hears all day long.

You have everything that you need to be successful at school this year.  You have a mom and a dad who love you and want the best for you.  You've got two pretty cool brothers (come on now--admit it!).  You never miss a meal, you have a soft bed to sleep in, you've got neat-o new shoes and clothes.  Do you know that there are kids who don't even have those basic things?  Families who don't have enough food?  Parents who can't afford new shoes?  There are kids whose parents work long hours and they don't get to spend a lot of time together.  There are kids who have sick family members, or who don't do well in school, or who are going through a thousand other hurts that they don't tell anyone about.  There is a well-known quote that goes like this:  "Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  Tuck that away and draw it up when you need to:  in sixth grade, and later, in your adult life.  Some rules never, ever will change.

There is a lot of talk among us adults about how hard it is to be a middle schooler.  That isn't because the schoolwork is so hard (but be prepared to study!); its because you have a crazy need-desire to fit in and be accepted.  Over the next few years, you will have to make some hard decisions about your relationships:  who to keep close to you,  and who to keep farther out.  Be smart, son.  Don't change who you are to make someone else happy.  EVER.  If you have to change, then they aren't worth it.

Tomorrow morning I will feed you a good breakfast, pack a grown-up lunch and a water bottle, and then for the first time in your whole life, I will drop you off at the front of the school and NOT walk you in.  You are growing up.  Sometimes that makes me feel sad and miss the cute little guy in the crib, but I would not trade in 6th-grade Goliath for anything!  Dad and I are so proud of you.  You will be awesome in your new school, and I fully expect that you will make a difference to lots of people there.  Always treat everyone with kindness and respect.  They, just like you, are strong, smart, and so very special!

I'm so glad I got to be your mom.

With love and great expectations,


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