It was about four years ago that Glennon Doyle Melton posted her back to school letter on her blog. It instantly went viral and Glennon has given us all permission to edit it to their family's needs. I thank her for the inspiration. This is my letter to my kids which I read to them the night before school...
Tomorrow is a big day. High school and fifth grade! WOW!
Jake and Rachel, When I was in third grade, I didn’t quite fit in. My hair wasn’t just right and my clothes weren’t super stylish. There was something about me that was just a little different from the popular kids. I didn’t do well in school. I didn’t do well in sports. Other kids teased me. They even stole my puffy stickers and put them on the bottom of my shoes. Not all of the kids were mean. But the ones who weren’t didn’t bother to stick up for me.
No one tried to talk to me. No one invited me to sit next to them at lunch or to play with them at recess. So I sat by myself. I walked around from one part of the playground to the next pretending I had somewhere to go. I was very lonely.
I do remember one girl who held my hand when she saw that I was sick. I will always remember her. The kids in your class are gifts to you. You may be a gift to them.
So please treat each one like you would want to be treated. Every single one.
If you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your Dad and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is a signal to you to do something. Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means you are a good person.
Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.
When you see someone being left out or being treated badly, please just do something. We can all use another friend.
Kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.
Trust me, it is. It is more important.
Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Jacob, you are entering high school and becoming a young man. You have some very exciting times ahead. But you will also have some big decisions in front of you. People will pressure you to go places and try things that you know are not right. Trust your instinct. We trust you 100% and that is something that you never want to risk. Once trust is broken, it is hard to repair. We are here for you. If you are ever in a situation that you shouldn’t be, you can call us. No questions asked. We will be there for you.
We love you more than any words can express. You don’t have to get straight A’s or be a star athlete to win our love. We already love you as much as any parents could. Follow our family mission to be your best, give your best and give your best and you will always find the right path.
Enjoy and cherish this year. Love, Mom and Dad