Letters to My Girls: On Starting School

On Starting School

My babies,

The time has come for you to be released into the world in a way we’ve never done before. It's really just the beginning, I know, but it feels like an awfully big launch since I'm sending two of you out at once. 

In a few weeks you’ll be walking into our local public school where you’ll spend 35 hours of your week with peers and teachers. For the last 6 years, we have spent our days together and I’m not going to lie to you, my heart aches a bit at this first launching. But I’m also so incredibly excited for you. I have zero doubts of how much you’re going to love it because YOU, my vibrant girls, were made for this.  

But with this huge milestone also comes some uncharted territory, so I wanted to give you some words of advice. Consider this some of the many mom lectures you’ll get over the years. After all, if I’m nothing else, I’m wordy. But I’m hoping that one day (many decades later) you two can laugh at your bossy mom, but maybe also look back and see my fierce love for you (and that maybe I was right about at least one or two things… Eh, a mom can dream!).

So without further adieu, here are some words of advice on starting school:

Be kind to everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Be kind to your close friends, be kind to your acquaintances, be kind to those who are mean to you. Because being kind doesn’t make you a doormat, it makes you, well, A KIND PERSON. And the world needs more kind people these days. 

Don’t be snotty. Along those same lines, don’t be a snot. Don’t be a snob. Don’t be manipulative. Don’t be a gossip. Don’t laugh at others’ expense. You’re only 6, but we’ve raised you better than that. If it won’t fly in our family, don’t do it at school. 

Respect others. Respect your teachers and school administrators, and remember how we’ve taught you to interact with authority figures. As for your friends, when someone asks you to stop bothering them, even if it started out as play, STOP immediately. Respect their words. Respect their property by taking care of their items better than you take care of your own. And respect yourselves and each other. If someone is bothering you, stand up for yourself (or your sister) and ask them to stop. 

Cheer your friends on. Listen, there are going to be some things that your friends & sister will be better than you in. You can't be the best at everything, and truth be told you might not be the best in anything. When this happens don’t get catty. Don’t get jealous. Cheer your friends on! On that same note, your friends will get to have and experience different things than you. Instead of letting envy creep into your heart, choose to be genuinely excited for them. Comparison isn’t only the thief of all joy, it’s also a cancer to almost any relationship. And the way to cure that cancer is to take joy and celebrate others’ wins, even if their win results in your loss.  

Stand up for what’s right. Girls, this world is full of people who would rather not rock the boat than do the right thing. Never be afraid to do the right thing. Stand up for what’s right, even if it costs you something (especially when it costs you something). That kid being made fun of? Befriend them and do the right thing. If you’re tempted to take a short-cut? Do the right thing. If your friends laugh at another classmate. Stand up for them and do the right thing (and maybe find better friends who treat others with respect). Doing the right thing will cost you something, but it’s worth it EVERY TIME. And just so you know, your mama will always have your back  

Social Media. UGH. You don’t know these words yet, and you won’t for a good long while. But this is for when you do. When the day comes when you have access to this: BE A GOOD FRIEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. And don’t use social media for blatant bullying or passive aggressive social out-casting. We see this even in adults today, people are either BLASTING EACH OTHER with great vigor or withholding likes or engagement as a modern day silent treatment. Don’t be that person. Also, the world OFFLINE is grander, bigger, and better than anything you can find online. Always remember that. 

Tell the truth. This is a good lesson to start learning now, but the truth will always set you free. Things kept hidden are rarely for your good. If you give your friend your word, make it count. If your teacher asks you a question, tell the truth. Live a life in the light, open and honest, because your integrity matters and it starts now. 

Always check your zipper when leaving the bathroom. Nothing further here. JUST SOUND GOOD ADVICE. 

It’s ok to be different. The world is full of conformers. Don’t let that be you. BE YOU. FULLY YOU. Be the smart, creative, goofy girls that God made you to be. The world doesn’t need anymore cookie cutters; it needs unique, confident, smart, engaging women. That’s who you are. Don’t you dare change yourselves to fit a mold. And when someone else looks differently, acts differently, or learns differently than you, celebrate that! Learn from them! See God's beauty in how diverse and wonderful our world is!

Say I’m Sorry. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong. WHEN you mess-up, tell a lie, or are mean to someone, go apologize and make it right. The best kind of friends aren’t the perfect ones, but they’re the ones who know when they’ve done wrong and are humble enough to go back and try to restore what’s been broken. And on that same note, saying I’m sorry doesn’t erase the consequences, but it does begin the restoration process. Don’t fear the consequences, face them bravely because they help us learn from our mistakes!

Don’t Be a Social Ladder Climber. Listen, even when you’re an adult there will always be pressure to be in a particular group of people. Don’t be a social ladder climber; no one ends up liking those people in the end. Find people who you enjoy spending time with and knock yourselves out BEING GOOD FRIENDS to each other. Be LOYAL. Be kind. Be truthful. Show up for your people. And don’t abandon them when something “flashier” comes along. 

Don’t worry about failure. My babies, don’t be afraid to be try new things and fail, because your identity doesn’t rest in your successes or failures. Some of my greatest lessons learned were birthed in failure. I really need you to hear this: Whatever you try, wherever you explore, whenever you fall, you will always have a family cheering you on. We don’t care if you’re the best or the worst or just average. We are proud of you for WHO YOU ARE, not what you do! Try things out, find activities that you love, and then do them with passion. Don’t let success or failure be the driving factor. Paint because you love to express yourself, sing because the music leaves you no other option, play a sport because you love the game, and run because you love the wind in your hair and how the ground feels beneath your feet.

Keep your privates private. No peeing on the playground like you pee in our backyard. Lame, I know, but again it's sound advice. BUT for real though, we respect our bodies and the bodies of others by keeping our privates private. If anyone asks to see, touch, or if they talk about privates in a way that makes you uncomfortable - tell your teacher AND me as soon as possible. We will always believe you.  

Be a diligent student. The disciplines you develop in school will help you in life. Work hard. Develop good habits now. Learn to love books. But also have a TON OF FUN! As women, I also need you to know that for centuries our mere gender denied us the honor of a formal education. Every day you walk into school, you stand on these denied women’s shoulders. Never forget that you GET to go to school because there were women who broke down barriers and fought for your right to receive an education. Do not waste their work. 

And lastly don’t worry about being a good girl. Just be a girl who loves Jesus, who is journeying and learning and living and failing and getting back up again. Perfection and/or Good is never the standard, because we rest in a Savior who has met the standard for us. So when you mess up royally (and like your mama you absolutely will), I want you to remember who it is that defines you. It’s not your grades. It’s not your friends. It’s not your goodness. It’s not even your family. It’s the blood of Jesus Christ. You are rescued and redeemed and there is NOTHING you can say or do that will make God love you more or less. 

And on that note girls, GO KNOCK ‘EM DEAD. And as our former church used to say at the end of every service, “YOU ARE SENT!” This world is lucky to have you.

You are so dearly loved,

You Mama

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 28, 2017 and filed under Letters to my girls.