We are beginning the academic calendar again in these parts, which is exciting...and, it is so hard to part with the cadence of summer. Our house has not been especially tied into this schedule yet, so to an extent I can feel myself wrestling its structure because it reminds me of the inevitability of my babies growing independent, tied with the awareness of the privilege of education (particularly for girls—topic for another day), the worry about social cues, safety, kindness, manners and how they will/won't be employed in a diverse classroom setting.
In light of what continues to be an ugly revelation of our cultural climate at this point in time, I find myself struggling to describe even my censored rendition of the wretched behaviors and beliefs held by adults in this country simply because in doing so, I suspect I am (possibly for the first time) suggesting to my own child, the idea that someone who is ‘different’ cannot simultaneously be good. I find myself throwing out fortune-cookie snippets of wisdom, just so it is fresh; I imagine myself practicing these same gestures of CliffsNotes life lessons until you leave for college...or, more than likely, for the rest of my days (joy).
This is a symptomatic response to life-change, and to motherhood I imagine. But, these are the times we find ourselves in. Which means that kids carry more knowledge than I would hope the innocence of childhood would require. And, because I cannot fit this on a fortune cookie sized note in your snack, I’m writing to you with all that I hope you might carry around with you in that neon-print backpack.
My Sweet Girl-
We met your teacher last night and you seem so excited to get started at your new school. The classroom and the kids in your new class look like exactly the kind of place where you are going to become a great learner. How exciting for you!
You are a smart cookie and I know you are just going to continue to surprise me with all that you learn. You’ll be reading to me before long--not to mention counting, spelling and writing! Keep asking great questions and I know you are going to love everything about your school.
Want to know what else is cool? Ms. K isn’t the only teacher in your classroom. Every student in your class is your teacher—which makes you a teacher, too.
You are going to find out so many exciting things from these friends. More importantly, they are going to teach you how it feels when someone is a good friend to you, and when they are not. I hope they teach you what sharing looks like and how good it feels to be the one who can share, and the one with whom someone else shares. I hope you learn from them what it is like to be a part of a game without leaving anybody out. You will find out that your friends’ families do things differently than we do and that is good to learn about, too.
I am so anxious to hear about all that you will learn!
I hope you share with these teachers your generous heart, your belly laugh, your creativity, what you know about The Wizard of Oz, recycling and bees! I hope that you choose to be a friend to others, that you ask questions when you don’t understand, that you have the confidence to volunteer your ideas--especially when they are different.
How I wish I could stamp your tremendous worth and dignity right into your being so permanently, that as you begin to sift through the the things you are learning—you know your goodness, your worthiness and that of each of your classmates--are never up for grabs.
I pray that you bless these teachers with your kindness, respect and listening. I pray that your teachers will be imaginative and wise, so as to learn from you. I pray for our friends and family—in gratitude for the teachers they have become for you. I pray for those you’ll never know, but whose actions will influence the choices you make. I pray for leaders who lead with character, grace, wisdom and courage that you would learn to emulate these qualities, too.
I love watching you grow into this new place of learning.