Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School

Here we are, about to start another new school year. In just a few days, the boys will be waking up early, packing lunches and new backpacks, and heading to their new classrooms for the year. They are excited and a little nervous, just as I always was the days before the first day of school when I was young. I remember not being able to sleep. Laying in bed, looking at my first day of school outfit hanging on my closet door.

 I find it difficult to sleep these days leading up to the first day of school as well. I lay in bed once everyone gets to sleep and begin to think, wonder, visualize and pray. Not so much worry anymore, just pondering, and becoming clear on what I hope their time at school will be like. Things come to mind, that sometimes I jot down in one of the journals laying on my bedside table. Things that I want to make sure that they truly know.

So, to my boys, on this eve of our newest chapter....

You know once Mommy gets writing things just start pouring out. I'll try to keep this clear and not super long. I lay awake last night thinking of you both, seeing your faces in my mind's eye. Thinking about how much you have grown over the last year, about your individual gifts, about the areas that challenge you, and most of all, your sweet hearts.

First of all, the love that each of you holds in your hearts is tangible. You are both deep feelers. You both express those feelings in very different ways. But you both have soft, sweet hearts. As we get older, we begin to be challenged by numerous situations, some of which threaten to, little by little, harden our hearts.

We might be treated disrespectfully, or even cruelly,  by an unkind classmate. We might feel judged by others for what we wear, how we look or the things we enjoy. We might have a teacher who doesn't seem to understand us and may not offer the support that we need. We might really struggle in certain academic areas leaving us feeling like a failure. We might begin to feel pressure to act a certain way to fit in, even when it doesn't feel right inside. Oh my babies, growing up is not all ice cream sundaes. BUT, as we have agreed to in our family, we get to decide how to respond to every situation. We don't have to be swept away helplessly. We can choose to look at these situations that maybe hurt our hearts and make us sad or mad, and use them in our favor, and in the favor of others. These are opportunities to learn new things about ourselves and to become stronger, braver and more compassionate.

Let us not allow the difficult times to harden our hearts. Let us allow those times to open our minds and hearts to new ways of being an even brighter light in the world. Let us treat everyone kindly. Let us be good examples of God's love by being honest, caring and encouraging, with ourselves and with others.

You are worthy of respect, just as you give respect and real friendship. Do not accept "friendships" that feel disrespectful. Friends are there to build one another up. To enjoy time together and share interests. To encourage and support. If you have a "friend" who talks badly about you, or is unkind, they are not your friend. You are empowered to stick up for yourself, doing so calmly and with clarity.

Give everyone a chance. Smile at the new kids and ask them to join you on the playground. You know how hard it can be to feel like you are on the outside looking in. They may be afraid to talk to the other kids, maybe have no one to sit with at lunch. Let's help them feel included and welcomed. Even if there are other kids giving them the side eye, or passing judgment, cause that's just so not cool. You may never end up talking to the new kid again after a day or two, or they could end up being your new bff. You never know.

Enjoy being part of a team when the time is right. Working together with other people isn't always easy. Everyone has different ideas, personalities. and boundaries. That is exactly why it's important to do it. It gives us a chance to hear other peoples' ideas, and maybe think about things in a new way. It lets us be part of some give and take, some compromise. You guys are smart cookies, but you don't know everything. Allow yourself to see things from another point of view. There is no reason to fear other people's beliefs or ideas...your heart will always lead you back to truth, AND your truth might just expand to include some cool new stuff.

Give it your all. I know some school work can be boring. It can be hard, but hard is not bad. Hard stretches us, grows our perseverance and patience. You may want to do things differently than you are being made to do them. Share your ideas with the teacher if he/she asks. Ask questions, lots of them. There will be subjects that you really enjoy, that excite you and spark ideas....and there will be some that you just have to get through. But doing our best, no matter how much we really like the work, is an important lesson. Don't do things willy-nilly just to get by, AND don't expect perfection from yourself, because there is no such thing. Just do your best work. Again, your heart knows what that is. That little voice will speak to you if you listen. It'll tell ya whether or not you are giving it all you've got. Getting an education is a gift. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The world has so much to offer. There are so many adventures to be had. We are students throughout our lifetime, only a small portion of that learning actually happens in school. These school years will be a distant memory before you know it.

Talk to Mom and Dad about all of it. Don't be afraid to share with us. You will never be judged. You will always be accepted and forever and ever loved for exactly who you are. We will help guide you. We will correct you when it's needed. We will kick ya in the ass if you are wallowing or not living nearly to your potential. We will be honest with you. We will laugh and cry with you. We will hug you and love on you. We will advocate for you. We will do hard things with you. We will encourage you to take the risk, to climb the mountain, to push yourself enough.

Lastly, my little dudes, just be you! Be who you are, wear what you want to wear. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Like the stuff that you like, even if the other kids aren't into it. Remember that you are who you are for a very special reason. We need your unique gifts. You have tremendous things to offer this world just by being yourself.

Here's to a year filled with new experiences, growth, self discovery and fun <3