**Sister here. Glennon — who is three weeks into her 40-day Internet fast — asked me to post her thoughts to you on this momentous day. And also to tell you that she loves you and misses you and all things such as this.**
I just dropped off all three of my children for their first day of school.
The littlest one started kindergarten today, which means that for the first time in eleven years, they will all spend five full days at school. Without me. My house is empty.
The dogs are running from room to room, looking for their best friends. My bedroom is so quiet that as I type right now, I can actually hear the dishwasher running in the kitchen. I’m looking down the barrel of an eight hour day with no more babies to juggle, no nap times or play dates to schedule, no snuggling dirty little necks after lunch. No pb and js to make. No band aids or popsicles to pass out.
I don’t consider myself a particularly nostalgic mama, and so I was surprised at the rush of emotions I experienced upon leaving the school this morning. It was a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth. Because though I tried to be stoic, I just couldn’t keep it in. Before I could make it to the van, ten years of built up mama emotion spilled out onto that school sidewalk.
HELLS TO THE YEAH!!!!!
DON’T CRY FOR ME, ARGENTINA!!!!!!
I’ve always loved the “It Gets Better” campaign that some wise, gentle souls created to encourage gay youth. I think we should steal it to encourage parents of babies and toddlers.
LOOK AT ME, MAMAS OF TODDLERS. IT GETS BETTER!!!!!
I GOTTA GO! I’m off to stand in my living room NOT WAITING FOR ANYONE TO ASK ME FOR SNACKS!!!!!!
But before I go stand and not wait – might I suggest that you read the letter below to your kids before they start back to school? I read it to mine on First Day of School Eve every year. Let’s make this the school year that kindness and courage become our top parenting priorities. Because EVERY KID in OUR kid’s class is also OUR KID. Let’s remind our children that We Belong To Each Other. And yes, feel free to change the names and pretend you wrote the letter. That’s what all my friends do.
So much love and peace and quiet and JOY TO THE WORLD.
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 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’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, 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. 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.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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