As school starts, we as parents want to prepare our kiddos for their school year the best we possibly can. So we get the new stainless steel bento lunch boxes and new backpacks, we spend WAY too many hours getting school supplies, unless your school gives you the opportunity to give them some cash and they will get them for you...which may cost more, but let's be honest I would give up my right arm, just to have someone else get school supplies. So the day before school we have all the "healthy" lunches made, the new outfit laid out with matching socks and shoes, and their school supplies in their backpacks, alarms are set, so when they wake up they are prepared. And all those are important, but I also want to prepare my kids for what lies ahead in their relationships at school, the heart stuff, so we talk about 3 simple things before school starts. Let me fill you in on what prompted these 3 things.
You see a couple of years ago, my son was having a hard time on the playground with a friend. He would come home crying, with his feelings hurt, and really needed some help navigating the situation. At the time, it was in the middle of the school year. And REMEMBER when lunch box-making at the first of the school year was all Bento boxes filled with fresh, organic apples and carrots and all the things healthy? And, we prepared sweet little notes that were sure to change our children’s lives when they read it with all their friends at the lunch table?
Well, this was the middle of the year and those things were out the door. I was happy if they got some stale Cheez-Its and a water, and notes in lunch boxes were 3 months long gone.
I remember asking my husband if he could take over lunch making duties and asked him to write a sweet note in Holden’s lunchbox since I had mom guilt for missing those for the past few-ish months.
So he did...and the LUNCH BOX note he wrote:
He wrote the simple phrase:
PROTECT THE WEAK
That’s it. Not some long-winded mission and motto for Holden. Just that simple phrase to tuck in his heart as he was dealing with some playground heartbreak. Three simple phrases, that changed our heart and our life.
This note has been all around the country. We have since made it our family mission and now a formed a company to spread this message to the world. It started with some t-shirts for friends but has now evolved into a budding business that not only prints some pretty cool shirts, but has also driven our passion to help other families join with us to live this message out in tangible ways.
To wear this message is one thing, but to be empowered to live it out is certainly another.
So every year we talk about that simple phrase:
PROTECT THE WEAK
And I ask my 4th grader, "what does this look like lived out in your school, soccer field, lunch room, recess?" And we talk about each one. Sometimes we even roll play what he would say to someone sitting alone, or how he would notice someone who may need a friendly face. He is a little more of a quiet soul. So the way he might live out these three things will be quite different then how my first grader does it.
And then I ask my first grader, how can you use your strength to love others this year? How can you be strong for someone else. She is a justice seeker and not afraid to be vocal about it. Last year there were multiple times she would vocally stand up for another. So we talk about that again this year. I ask her what concerns her, does she have any fears? What makes loving others easy or hard?
It's not a long, drawn out conversation, but it is something I want to prepare them for in advance. I want to prepare them to live this message out, in their personality, in their own ways. But I want to set them up for success by discussing it with them.
What if thousands of kids showed up at their schools with the same message in their lunchboxes, in their hearts, and were empowered to live it out? What if parents modeled this on a daily basis?
What would our schools and communities look like?
Would lonely kids find joy in a friend who reached out to them?
Would kids who are bullied find solace in the comforting words of a peer, who stood up for them?
Would teachers look forward to coming into their classroom because their students were full of compassion and respect?
Would kids excel in their studies because others were cheering them on, instead of tearing them down?
Would parents be able to share their hopes and failures with one another without judgement?
You fill in the blank___________.
Let’s dream big for our kiddos. Because one little note written on a napkin might just change somebody's word.