Sooner than I’d like to admit, the children and I will resume our long-anticipated back-to-school schedule of early wake-ups, drowsy bowls of cereal, fights over bathroom space, lunch packing, tracking down shoes that were-just-here-a-minute-ago, piling into the van, and racing (er, driving ever-so-safely) down country roads to our parish school. As I prepare to send my children to learn and grow under the capable and loving direction of others, I’ve written out some things I’d like them to remember.
Dear Child of mine,
Be kind – to your teachers, your classmates, and the person who empties the garbage cans. The people at your school are like your family, only there’s more of them. Just like at home, people will do things you don’t like, or differently than you would do them. Not everyone is going to be exactly like you and that’s okay. No matter what, it is always a good idea to speak and act with love. Remember that even though you can’t control what others say or do, you can control how you respond. Think about how you would like to be treated, and go from there.
Pay extra attention to those in need of special kindness or help, like the new kid or the kid who seems to always be by himself. Remember when you were new in class a couple of years ago, and how hard it was to not know if – or where – you fit in? The kid sitting by himself in the lunchroom is just waiting for someone to smile and say, “Hello,” and eat sandwiches and hang out at recess. Be the sort of friend you would want to have.
Be kind to your teachers! How would you like to be treated if you were in charge of your class? It isn’t always easy to be in charge, you know. Obedience, attentiveness, cooperation, and gratitude aren’t just tools to use at home – your teacher will appreciate when you bring them with you to the classroom, too. Be on the lookout for little ways to make your teacher’s life a bit easier. Small acts of thoughtfulness can go a long way.
This one may be harder, but do your best to be kind to the one kid who drives you nuts – you know who she is: the one who’s a little too bossy, a little too loud, or a little too messy with the project materials. God loves her, too! And maybe she just needs your prayers. You never know the kind of tough things she experienced this summer. She might really be hurting and in need of a kind word or a smile. So … be the person to bring those things to her today.
Work hard. Give your very best effort with your studies every day. It’s okay to take breaks – that’s what snack time, recess, and your lunch period is for – but you go to school primarily to learn, grow, and develop the wonderful mind and heart God gave you. Don’t waste this precious time by constantly being silly, or complaining, or daydreaming about what’s happening with your friends this weekend. Ask your Guardian Angel to help you focus on the task at hand. You will be glad that you did come quiz, test, and report card time!
Don’t forget to pray. I know school isn’t always easy. There can be tough math concepts, misunderstandings with classmates, book report deadlines, and let’s not even talk about challenging H-O-M-E-W-O-R-K. Remember that you have a whole cloud of witnesses – the saints and angels (especially your namesakes and patrons) – cheering you on and rooting for you as you walk through life. Pray, my child. Pray for help. Pray for guidance. Pray for strength. Pray for the wisdom to make good choices. And know that your Dad and I are praying for you every day, too.
There are so many other things I’d like to remind you to do, my lovely child – lead by example, use your best manners, don’t blurt out, listen, don’t climb on the furniture, take turns, chew with your mouth closed, share – but I’ll leave you with this final thought:
Be not afraid. There is nothing God won’t lead you to that He won’t also help to see you through. He gave you very special gifts and talents that He wants you to use for His glory, so go for it! Your Dad and I are so very proud of you, kiddo. We love you so very much. You are amazing! We know you can do it. And when you need help, we’re here, ever as always, to lend a helping hand and a chocolate chip cookie or two for good measure, unless Dad or I eat them all before you get home.
With all my love,