Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Letter to My Son For His First Day of School

Dear Larkin,

Tomorrow is your first day of “big kid” school, and you are so completely nonplussed about the milestone. I, however have been wringing my hands and worrying for weeks. Are you ready? Will you be happy? Will you make friends? How much trouble will you get into for your non-stop talking? You’d think I’d be ready for this. You’ve been in daycare since you were two; it’s not like you’re being pulled from the bosom of home and tossed out into the world for the first time. But there is just so much I want you to know:

Try. I know it’s scary to learn something new, to try something unfamiliar. But don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Try, try, try. Before you know it, everything that seemed impossible will have become second nature.

Look for those who are different than you. Whether that means they don’t look like you, or are dressed in a way you aren’t used to, or they laugh at different jokes, or maybe they never seem to laugh at anything at all. Don’t be afraid of different.  Different is surface. Chances are, you’ll find common ground in no time.

Never ignore tears. You have the most gentle and tender heart I know, and that is a GIFT. Your job is not to fix feelings. But if you see someone sad or scared or lonely, reach out to them; offer a hug or a helping hand. Better yet, just invite them to play with you and your friends. Make sure the teacher knows someone is hurting.  You never know what big feelings can be healed just by someone else noticing they exist.

Be a leader. The masses are rarely going in the direction you should follow. Stand up for who you are, embrace your differences, be proud of what matters to you. And don’t worry if it takes you 25 more years to learn this lesson – I’m still practicing myself. You’re already light years ahead of me, in your ‘soldier’ backpack with the retro “The Flash” patch you picked out for me to iron on, and your vintage metal lunchboxes. Enjoy the things that make you different, whether it’s the fandoms you join or the morals and religion you choose to follow. You do you, honey.

Remember that one true friend is more important than an entire flock of fair weather followers. Treasure your friendships, be good to your friends. You never know which people are destined to be in your life forever, and there are no friends like the one who know every single embarrassing story you’ve ever survived.

You won’t love every subject and every lesson you study. But find your passion and follow it. Read everything that catches your eye. Ask questions, ask for help. Raise your hand as often as possible; give the answer whenever you know it. Let someone know when you don’t understand. There is never any shame in that. Don’t try to coast by on being smart, son. Smart people don’t always succeed – only hard workers.

Know that you are loved. Always. No matter what your daily report looks like, or what grades you get on your report card. YOU. ARE. LOVED. I will spend all day worrying about you and praying for you. Your family has your back – we are all hoping and praying that you will do well, that you’ll love learning as much 13 years from today as you do right now.

I can’t wait to hear all about your first day, weasel.

To the moon and back,



Dear Lord,

I’m going to need your help getting through today. Let the gods of waterproof mascara be on my side, please. Let me have faith in Larkin, that he’ll be polite and respectful, that he’ll do his best, that he won’t get hopelessly lost going to the bathroom down the hall.

Give him something to love about school. Let him find something that makes surviving the “hard” subjects worth it. I’m just going to ask: let him love learning. Give him the same love of books that you gave John and I, if you will.

Give him the courage and confidence to always stand his ground and believe in himself. Protect him from bullies, and insulate him from their inevitable taunts. And if he ever becomes a bully himself, Lord, give him someone to whup it out of him, because if they don’t – I WILL.

May he always talk to me from the backseat of the car or in the quiet of his bedtime routine like he does now.  May his heart always be an open book to me, and may my words always be tender in return.

Guide him with your holy spirit and his parent’s sense of humor, if you can figure out how to mesh those.

Let him know that he is loved. Let home always be his soft, safe place. May his worries be small, his fears be slight, and his joys limitless.

Larkin is a gift, he’s a blessing. And he’s the coolest kid I know. Thank you, God, for trusting us with him.

But… seriously. Don’t let him get lost going to the bathroom, okay?

Daycare Graduation, 2015

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Letter I Wish I Could Give to My Son's New Teacher

Dear Teacher,

This kid. THIS KID. He will drive you nuts this year. I'll apologize ahead for that. He will talk to you until you plead for him to stop. He'll go to time out for talking during circle time, during nap time, during story time; while he's on the potty and when he's supposed to be eating lunch. He will talk so much that he may single-handedly be the cause of you going home, pouring a giant glass of wine, and begging your partner/roomate/children for silence, for just "NO MORE WORDS." Listen to him when you can, though. He'll surprise you with the depth of his intelligence, the tenderness of his heart, and how bloody much he knows about animals. When you can't take anymore, just tell him you need some time. Please try not to tell him he talks too much. Tell him you're "all out of words". He'll understand. 

He is hyper and wild and full of energy - all boy. He never sits still, and I promise his attention span is eight minutes TOPS. And that's just for the things he's truly interested in. He's learning though, I promise. You'll think he didn't hear a word, but then he'll come home to us and repeat and analyze every single thing you told him. He's wiggling, but he's listening. It's hard to remember that he's only 4 when he uses words like 'prerogative' or discusses philosophical and religious concepts that fly over the head of most adults. But he is. He's just a four year old boy, and I beg you - don't make learning a chore for him. Not yet.

He smiles when he's nervous. No, really: I need you to pay attention to this one. He smiles when he's nervous, when he's scared, when he knows he's in a world of trouble. It looks like he's smirking. It looks like he's mocking you when he's being chastised - I promise, he's not. It's a tic, honestly. He can't help it. You'll want to kill him - I do every single time he does it. Lord, that one little tic is going to get him in so much trouble for his entire life. Just remember - it's a face of nerves, not of smart assery - although you'll see that face from him as well, but it's unmistakable. Feel free to kill him for that one! 

He's not a "special untouchable, flawless little snow flake", but he is a pretty special little kid. He's smart and clever and witty, but he gives up easily, and needs encouragement to try new things. 

He's my little boy, and he's my world. I know he isn't perfect, and I want to work on his problems with you. But he has so many amazing qualities, and he can be such an asset and enjoyable part of your day - if you can just have some patience and maybe a good, solid pair of earplugs.

Much (MUCH) Respect,

Larkin's Mom

PS: If you hear him shouting out military catch phrases, taking his role as good guy in 'cops and robbers' a little too seriously, singing Bob Marley mixed with classic church hymns, or referencing Shakespeare - just... roll with it. He's growing up in a strange little household. That's a whole 'nother letter, though.