I wrote this letter when my first daughter went to Kindergarten. And even 10 years and 4 kids later, they still sit and listen to me read it the first morning of school... they watch me cry through the whole thing too. HA! I have made edits through the years and now that they are all in Middle and High School, there are some things that don't apply anymore but the message remains the same.
Please feel free to take and customize for your littles too.
Today is a big day! I can’t believe it is already time for you to start 8th, 9th, and 10th grade!
Guys, when I was in school, there was a little girl in my class named Jane. Jane looked a little different, and she wore clothes that weren’t cool, and sometimes she even smelled a little bit. Jane didn’t smile. She hung her head low and she never looked at anyone at all. Jane never did her homework. I don’t think her parents reminded her like yours do. The other kids teased Jane a lot. Whenever they did, her head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased her, but I never told the other kids to stop, either. I never talked to Jane, not once. I never invited her to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, she sat and played by herself. She must have been very lonely. I still think about Jane often. I wonder if she remembers me. Probably not. I bet if I’d asked her to play, just once, she’d still remember me.
I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you. So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Ladies, if you see someone being left out, or hurt, or teased; a part of your heart will hurt a little. Daddy and I want you to trust that hurt in your heart. Your entire life, we want you to notice and trust that feeling, it’s called empathy, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, “LEILA! LANDYN! LIVIANA! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help!” Whenever you feel empathy – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and wants to use you.
Sometimes the magic of empathy will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away. Empathy might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to hang out. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your P.E. team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.
Sometimes you will feel empathy but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell a teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, Sis. We will make a plan to help together.
When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you empathy, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Jane. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling empathy, but I chose fear over empathy. I wish I hadn’t. Jane could have used a friend and I could have, too.
We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the boys think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes, or the most Snapchat friends (is that a thing?), or coolest electronics. We just don’t care. We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all.
We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.
Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that empathy is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.
Trust me, Babe, it is. It is more important.
Don’t try to be the best this year, Sis, but always give your best. Be grateful and kind and brave.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teachers, too. You Belong To Each Other. I hope you see how blessed you each are with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year, enjoy and cherish each one of them.
I love you all so much that my heart might explode.
And thank you for being my favorite gifts of all time.