Aug 282011
 


Hey Baby.

Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.

Chase – 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’d 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.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little 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, Chase! 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 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’ 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, baby. We will make a plan to help 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.

Chase – 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 As. We don’t care if the girls 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 most Pokemon cards or 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. Because 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, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.

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 one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.


Love, Mama





Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  42 Responses to “Dear Chase”

  1. […] attention and our conversations. I was so grateful to conclude my evening by running across the most beautiful words of hope written by a mom, Glennon Melton to her son on the eve of his first day in third grade. She writes: […]

  2. […] you to make sure to raise a kind and empathetic little human. Of course you are all doing that. These back to school words, written by Glennon Melton should be required reading for every human in the World. Like the rest […]

  3. I discussed your letter with the class that I am currently student teaching. The students in my third grade class were in a tizzy with each other, using “I’m not your friend” kind of words. I would love for you to use this letter to create a children’s picture book that teachers could use in the classroom at the beginning of the school year.

  4. To tell the truth this was an incredible detailed article nonetheless as with all fantastic freelance writers there are some factors that may be proved helpful upon. Nevertheless by no means the particular significantly less it absolutely was stimulating.

  5. […] pastor Sheri Fry shared a touching blog post from Momastery as her devotional today.  The core message is about choosing compassion instead of […]

  6. My daughter just started second grade and I can’t wait for her to get home from school so we can read this together. Thank-you for writing such a thoughtful, heart wrenching peice that reminds us what is important.

  7. Thank you for the most beautiful and well written piece! You said everything that is in my heart and what I most want my children to know. I have a 7 year old son and a 2 year old daughter and I have and will read this to them often. I believe that if we can teach our children this our world would be a far better place.

  8. Beautiful– thank you.

  9. […] recently read a post about teaching your child to look out for other children, specifically children who are lonely and alone. I remember a little boy […]

  10. […] following letter was written by Glennon and originally posted on Momastery on August 28, 2011 I thought it might touch you as it has me and my family so i’m sharing it […]

  11. I don’t know how I came across this, but I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your amazing words. I have often tried to express these same feelings to my 8 year old daughter yet nothing I say compared to your words. On a more personal note, you and your words have helped me tremendously. I had lost my gift of faith many years ago. I know this sounds silly, but reading how simply you explained God and compassion to your son gave me a little piece of that lost faith back. And, I thank you. Thank you so much. I’ve read your letter to my daughter a couple times now (I hope you don’t mind, but I customized it for her) and she has promised me that she WILL speak up if someone needs help. She WILL do the right thing, not the easiest thing. I have also forwarded the link to this letter to her former 1st grade teacher. I have also posted it on my blog. I hope it circulates around the entire school and the teachers will share it with the kids, and the kids will share it with their parents, and then maybe, just maybe, eventually children will stop being so cruel to one another and realize your words are the only absolute truth out there. Trust your heart-ache! Thank you again for the amazing gift you’ve given me and thank you for allowing us all to share it with our kids. I just know that we will all see the benefits of your compassion.

  12. I have a Chase too! This works out perfect I can just use your letter! :) Totally kidding! This is such an important lesson to teach our kids. As a substitute teacher I love the part about taking care of your classmates and the teacher! Not enough kids hear that!

  13. This has reminded me of how we should all treat each other with respect and dignity. When our youngest son, Jarred, was in 1st or 2nd day, his teacher talked (and cried) to me in the hallway one day telling me about what he had done. There was a little girl named Janice who didn’t smell good, dressed badly and was a little dirty most of the time. Children in the class didn’t like to sit next to her. The teacher moved the children around in the class often. She said Jarred was always s
    o kind and sweet to Janice and never complained. He came home from school one day and asked me if he could take soap to school. When I asked him why he said he wanted Janice to have it because he didn’t think she had soap at home. I tear up as I write this. Not to leave out our oldest, Nicholas, he always tried to bring in those on the sidelines and make them feel welcomed.
    Our adult hearts should be so tender.

  14. May I say without reservation, your post is one of the most eloquent, compassionate, well spoken commentary I have ever read! My sister shared this post with me and I’m going to share it with everyone I know. I even plan to share it on my blog and link it to your blog.!! Reading this to our children is more important than all the school supplies we’ll ever buy!
    I am a Mother of 3, Grandmama to 5, and a retired teacher of 30 years! I have seen the other side of this post almost daily in my teaching career. My mother said almost verbatim these very words to me which made me pick the little bag girl sitting in the very far right corner of my 4th grade class. She never spoke, smelled bad, and wore clothes 3 sizes too big. My heart ached for her and I remember choosing her one day in a classroom game. I still remember the stunned silence of the classroom and the little girl raised her head ever so slowly to make sure she had not mistaken her name being called. Evelyn was her name and Evelyn walked slowly to the front of the room and stood beside me, not knowing what to do. Those were the days before special education classes and I’m certain Evelyn would have qualified. From that day on, the other classmates began choosing Evelyn in our classroom games more so to gain the adoration of our teacher than for compassion I’m afraid to say. However, it forever changed my outlook and I went into teaching special education students for over 30 yrs. That 4th grade teacher died while I was in High School and she left me her watch with a note telling my mother about that day when I chose Evelyn!
    Thank you for reminding me of Evelyn and for all the other Evelyn’s
    in the world, they Thank you too!
    Blessings
    Gmama Jane

  15. Dear Blessed One,
    I just started reading your blogs late last night. I am in total awe. I shared two of your writing (stories) with my husband and couldn't get through them without crying….I am not a crier. I feel like I have found a best friend in you. You find the holiness in me that wants to be holy, you bring the God I know…to life, you write like I want to live. I prayed before I opened you back up tonight because… well because I wanted direction of what to read and He brought me to this letter. I teach third grade. You empower me to continue to spead His love, to teach those little ones to pay attention to bravery and kindness. I have never thought about compassion being a whisper from God. WOW! You truly are His and connect with the part of Him in me. Thank you with every part of me!!

  16. Would you be willing to allow me to share this with the parents at my school? I am a principal and was so touched by your post.

  17. Just re-read with my 4th grader. Thanks for putting in writing want I wanted to say. She read aloud and it opened up a chance for us to talk about situations she's in.
    Thank you for sharing

  18. Read this to my kids last night instead of a bedtime story & I will re-read it on the night before school starts. Great message- hope all who read it will teach their kids the important lesson it teaches, no matter your religion. Thank you!

  19. This is such a beautiful letter to your child. I can't fully express my gratitude to people like you in this world. God Bless.

  20. Dear Glennon,
    I read your blog because I struggle with some of the same issues you've struggled with and a dear friend "sent" you to me. I love your words. You've made me laugh when I want to cry and that is HUGE. Thank you.

    This post is so beautiful. I am a 2nd grade teacher. Thank you for teaching your children about compassion, kindness, and bravery. I'm looking forward to unwrapping my new gifts next week. You are amazing.
    Love,
    pm

  21. Dearest Glennon,

    Your gift of words has once again blessed us all with a reminder of the things that matter. Compassion, kindness, courtesy, bravery, and honoring the heart-tugs of God.

    Your message is one that is important for the third graders inside all of us. For indeed, each of us is given opportunities to show compassion and be brave on a regular basis. May we all choose to be kind and brave.

    Thank you for your inspiration. Your love/hate relationship with the blank page that fuels your passion is also God's way of sharing Truth. Bless you, faithful servant.

    With love,

    Rachael

  22. Such a sweet post. I love it. Beautiful message to send your boy off to school with!

  23. Also, Kate. LOVE! I can only hope Simon grows up to be that kind of boy/man.

  24. G,

    Chills. Yes. That.

    It's quite a wretched spot, that lower middle of the social strata of children.

  25. Here you go, Jaime. Is this what you're talking about? I like this poem.

    The Swimming Pool – by Thomas Lux

    All around the apartment swimming pool

    the boys stare at the girls

    and the girls look everywhere but the opposite

    or down or up. It is

    as it was a thousand years ago: the fat

    boy has it hardest, he

    takes the sneers,

    prefers the winter so he can wear

    his heavy pants and sweater.

    Today, he’s here with the others.

    Better they are cruel to him in his presence

    than out. Of the five here now (three boys,

    two girls) one is fat, three cruel,

    and one, a girl, wavers to the side,

    all the world tearing at her.

    As yet she has no breasts

    (her friend does) and were it not

    for the forlorn fat boy whom she joins

    in taunting, she could not bear the terror,

    which is the terror

    of being him. Does it make her happy

    that she has no need, right now, of ingratiation,

    of acting fool to salve

    her loneliness? She doesn’t seem

    so happy. She is like

    the lower middle class, that fatal group

    handed crumbs so they can drop a few

    down lower to the poor, so they won’t kill

    the rich. All around

    the apartment swimming pool

    there is what’s everywhere: forsakenness

    and fear, a disdain for those beneath us

    rather than a rage

    against the ones above: the exploiters,

    the oblivious and unabashedly cruel.

  26. Sharon P. I can guarantee you she does. And that she would probably love an apology. I was that kid in my circles and I still remember. I say it's never too late to make amends.
    P.S. I was a big jerk too sometimes and cut out the "weaker" ones when I got a chance just to make myself feel better.

  27. nope. thank YOU, lady.

    wonderful.

  28. I've been thinking about this a lot since reading it yesterday. I think that not only is it wonderful that you wrote this for Chase (and our babies), it's also a very very good lesson for us as parents.
    I remember growing up with my parents wishing for me to associate with the "right kind" of kids. Of course, my friends were dorks like me and my brother's friends were the "right kind" who threw parties every time their parents left town. Over the years it all worked out. My friends are still dorks like me and my brother's friends grew up to be responsible "right people". Now I teach my kids that dorks are awesome and so are cheerleaders and so are kids who live in a hotel. My mom has told me many many times "you can't save everyone". I guess she has a point, but I'm going to keep trying and I'll encourage my kids to do the same.
    Your essay is a great way to help us be the parents of the kids who try to save everyone.

    thanks, lady.

  29. Beautiful. I just read it to my daughter. She said she wasn't listening but I think she was. I'm going to print this out and read it to her every year. I remember being in elementary school and one day a group of us decided (actually one girl decided and we went along with it) that we weren't going to be friends with one of the girls we played with anymore. I didn't feel good about this. I liked the girl a lot. For 25 years I've felt guilty about it. I remember how hurt she was. We went through middle school and high school and were never really friends again. We are friends on facebook now and I've always thought about apologizing. I wonder if she even remembers it?
    ~Sharon P

  30. I was the odd child for most of elementary school and Jr. High. And some of high school.
    I remember the kids who showed compassion. I remember those who made things the worst for me. I remember some who weren't cruel but didn't take a stand either. I remember one "friend" of mine in junior high telling me frankly that I brough it upon myself. I think she thought she was helping. But kids who lack social skills aren't doing it on purpose. Nobody deserves to be ridiculed or cast out.
    It never really goes away, the feeling of being lesser. At least that's what I gather from people who I have talked to who were bullied during childhood. And it's what I know from my experience. Maybe there are some who are able to move on and feel great about themselves as adults, but it hasn't been my experience.
    Yes, it does get better after high school. But I believe that childhood bullying has a lasting effect.
    What I hope for my children more than anything else is that they will be kind people. Compassionate.
    I hope they will have the strength of character to not to sit silently by while another is being bullied.

  31. LOVE this post…LOVE IT!! I wanted to clap as I read it….and in my head I heard myself involuntarily saying the o'l "mmmhmmm, amen sistah, bring it, bring it" lingo.

    But mostly…. I mostly noticed I was doing the o'l tilt your head back and open your eyes real wide as I continued to read each paragraph so all those tears that had formed would not pop out all over and short circuit my laptop! ;)

    Honestly it did tear me up and I am extremely choked up as I type because I love that you are that type of parent…who is aware and compassionate and intentional in teaching that to your child. …This comes from a mom of a little guy with special needs who knows there are going to be some tough days for him here and there… I cannot tell you how beautiful it is to know there are parents out there telling their kids before school even starts to look out for my kid….or others who look like they might need an extra smile that day….

    Thank you… truly.

  32. ::wipes tears::
    Amen.

  33. Love this. Hope Irene was mild for you; it was for us. I was a little bit of this kid. I can remember hearing somewhere about performing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty, so I left kind notes for one of the kids in my class who really struggled. I was only a little bit because I didn't take it farther. I appreciate so much that you share your wisdom with us as well as your kids. My little guy is growing up so fast, and sometimes I feel adrift regarding how best to teach him. So, I tuck these words of wisdom away and hope I can somehow help my boy to be as kind and compassionate as possible. Good luck to you as all your little ones go off into our bright beautiful world! I look forward to reading more and more.

  34. I love this.

    This past week I was at work (I work in the school system) at one of my high schools and I was fixing a computer in the guidance office on the first day of school. It was crazy in there, as I'm sure you could imagine. There were 4 kids sitting around a table making small talk and a few other kids waiting to be signed up for classes. The 4 kids were aids who knew the school well. The other two sat there anxiously watching them. Within a few minutes, the group of kids asked the new kids if they were new, asked which grade they are in and introduced themselves. I was so impressed I almost cried. I think back to my school years and I was too nerdy to ever be that person who talked to the new kids. I'm a huge fan of teenagers since I have some really good ones, but I'm always amazed at this generation. It makes me think that maybe as parents we're doing something right.

  35. Beautifully written and expressed. This is what all children need to hear before heading off to school.

  36. G — I was the kid that you're asking Chase to be, and nearly every year, the kid that I stood up for eventually walked away from me, and I was left with no friends at all because when I stuck up for that kid, the other kids abandoned me.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't teach our kids what you're trying to teach Chase. It's just another one of those lessons that I wish ALL parents would teach.

    But, as the teacher said, it can be a very lonely place.

    And another thought for you teacher friend — if she doesn't paraphrase, but just keeps it as written, it's perfectly legal to post. Just as it would be if she posted Martin Luther King, Jr or the Declaration of Independence. She's just posting great writing, not teaching religion in doing so. Many public school teachers (and their principals and school boards) don't get that distinction. Trust me —I'm a lawyer.

    S

  37. This will be a topic for morning meeting early in my class this year. Your gentle words are going to help us (co-teacher and me) share this amazing message. Thanks, Glennon.

  38. Been reading you for many months now, first time commenting. For all that I have read so far…thank you. I am a 4th grade teacher and this one really spoke to me. I work HARD in my classroom every year to help my friends learn to be kind to each other. I believe that they show up as compassionate little people. But I can tell you (because they have told me year after year) that when it comes to bullies the fear is SOOOO strong in them that they freeze. The fear is that if they show their compassion to the victim, the bully will turn on them and they will be the next victim. I am telling you we role play, we discuss, we make pacts for action, and yet in the moment that fear is so strong.

    This year ( and every year) I will hang a poster in my classroom that says "Will you choose fear or compassion? The decision is yours." Or something to that effect. And your beautiful gift of the written word from this post will be paraphrased and shared with my little friends forever more. (Gotta take some of the God references out since it's a public school.)

    Helping kids to be kind to each other and be good little people is (in my opinion) the bigger part of my job. And every year at back to school night I tell this to parents.

    Again, thank you for beautifully putting words to this very important issue in children's lives.

  39. Oh, Glennon, can I copy this and address it to my children? This is perfect and beautiful.

    When I was nine, one little girl I played with encouraged me to exclude another little girl from our play. And I did. My mom pulled me aside and helped me see how that must hurt, and that lesson stuck with me all my life.

    But I didn't always have the courage to do what I knew was right. One year in high school, someone leaned across and asked me why I hung out with my best friend. After all, she pointed out, I was cool and cute and whatever and my friend was …. NOT.

    I wish I'd had the courage to stand up and tell her WHY I chose the friend who was loyal and true and funny and smart and interesting over the "cool" kids who would even ask such a question. Instead, I mumbled something incoherent and hung my head.

    I want my children to have that courage when their time comes. I want to read this, and similar things, to them every week, all the time. Thank you.

  40. My nephew Alex was one of those rare children who seemed to be born with compassion. Perhaps it was because his parents, both teachers, had kept him at home for "another year to play" and he was a 6-year-old kindergartner and therefore a little more mature than his peers, but I doubt it. He just always looked out for the underdogs, the Adams of the world. When I went to watch his 8th grade performance, a little guy came on before Alex's ultra-cool rock band (because, yeah, he was talented and adorable and popular) and to my amazement, stood there all by himself and sang "A Whole New World" from The Little Mermaid. It was beautiful and he nailed it and I thought "this boy is gonna get shredded for being a GUY singing a Disney song from Little Mermaid in tenor. Oh my God!" When he finished the crowd went wild with applause. I was hanging around backstage because my mom was the accompanist so I immediately caught up with Alex and asked him why this adorable little guy wasn't immediately the butt of so many jokes. His answer: "Because he's my friend and they'd have to answer to ME." That was Alex then, and it's Alex today, 20 years later. I love him so.

  41. It was in third grade that we had a girl everyone teased. She was overweight and I guess for lack of a better word, kind of dorky. Although I never picked on her directly, we didn't treat her well as a class.

    On the night of my birthday party, my parents took me and my friends out to an ice cream parlor where we started talking badly about this girl (who obviously was not at the party).

    My Dad stepped in, and made each one of us think of one nice thing to say about the girl. I don't know if that lesson stuck with any of the other girls, but it certainly stuck with me, and now I try to raise my kids with the same philosophy — that everyone has good qualities within them, even if we have to search a little harder to see them.

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