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,
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|