It had snowed all day and all night. 17 inches to be exact. We can remember it like it was yesterday – every detail. Your personality and drive were prominent the moment you were born. You instantly made the world a better place. After losing two babies while in mommy’s belly, your mom and I prayed for you – every day. We desperately wanted you, more than anything else in the world. We craved the touch of your little hands, your smile, and ultimately the love of your little heart. It felt like an eternity for you to arrive, but when you did our hearts were made whole.
This afternoon, at 12:26, a big yellow bus will arrive to take you to your first day of kindergarten. As you step on that bus for the first time, you’ll forever take a piece of our hearts with you. Although your smile will radiate with your innocence intact, and your confidence will shine, we know that part of you will be anxious; knowing that you’re stepping away from mommy and daddy on life’s journey. Letting you go, even just a few steps, is hard. For the past five years, we’ve begged time to stand still. Like you, we’re anxious for your first day too. We’re nervous that not everyone will protect you from your food allergies like we do or that someone may hurt your precious little heart. We’re blessed to know you’re going to an amazing school, with a dynamic leader and kindergarten teacher, and an incredible staff, all of who will love and care about you. They will help you start off right. So today we begin to let you go; even just a little bit.
Your daddy and mommy have spent almost 30 total years in schools. For our entire careers, we’ve worked to love and support other people’s children. Now it’s your turn, to feel that love from so many amazing people you’ll meet along the way. Over time, we’ve learned a few things that we want to share – a few life lessons – many of which you won’t fully understand until you are much older.
1. Show people that they matter.
There will be days when others question their worth. It may be a friend on the bus with struggles at home. It may be a bus driver going through something difficult or a teacher who just lost their dog; just like you did a few weeks ago. Every day, without tiring, show people that they matter. Do nice things. Say nice things. Show them that you care. It’s not only you that matters – they do to. Show them that. Every. Day.
2. Laugh often.
Life is a gift. Enjoy it. Have fun every day. Make others laugh. Make others smile. Laugh freely and often. Love life with all that you have and with all that you are.
3. Take risks.
It’s natural to want to fit in. As you get older, this will become something you think about more and more, but know that greatness has never been achieved without taking risks. Step out of the box that school often puts you in and always be YOU – be who you want to be and push yourself past that which you find comfortable.
4. Say please and thank you.
People will help you in some way, every day. From the teacher who shows you something new, to the secretary who makes sure you’re safe, to the bus driver who helps you cross the road, to your principal that reads with you, show them that you appreciate the love they have for you. Your kindness and appreciation for others matters. Make sure to say please and thank you. Every. Time.
5. Know that hard work pays off.
We will be forever proud of you, especially when you give your best. There will be things that come easy, and things that are a challenge. Give your all, persevere when tasks are difficult, and challenge yourself to try things that are new and different. For it is outside your comfort zone where the magic happens. Find your magic and let your light shine.
6. Understand that learning is messy.
As the little perfectionist you are, it’ll take some time for you to grasp that learning is messy – and takes time. Don’t learn things because others say you should. Learn because you want to. Ask great questions. Seek to understand. Stay curious.
7. You’ll always be more than a number.
As you spend more time in school, you’ll take a number of assessments. We adults call them all sorts of names; ‘tests’, ‘benchmarks’, ‘screenings’, etc. These are designed to help your teachers know how you’re doing and how they can best help you. Sometimes you’ll see scores on the top of a paper. Never let a score or number define you. You are far more than a data point, as we care most about things that can never be measured; your character, integrity, work ethic, and how you treat others. Work diligently and never settle for less than your very best.
8. Follow your heart and passion – not what the world says you should do.
It’s easy to follow a crowd. Making your own path is the challenge. Follow your heart. If you love art – be an artist. If your love is music – sing and dance. If you want to be a scientist – invent something new. If you want to use computers, then learn how to code. Never let the world tell you something is ‘for boys’. Follow your heart and passion, and be the best your God-given talents will allow.
9. Pay it forward.
Find ways to do random acts of kindness. Every day. Surprise people and make them smile; even people you may not know. One of life’s greatest rewards is giving to others. Such giving will stretch your heart – and that’s a good thing. There’s plenty of room for love and generosity in there. Fill it to the brim.
10. When you fail, get up and keep running.
There are times where you’ll try and things won’t work. Maybe it’s a test. Maybe it’ll be a new game in gym class. Maybe it’ll be mixing a certain color in art. Fail, or “first attempt in learning”, is that what we go through to help us learn. Life is a marathon; not a sprint. The only time we truly fail is when we give up and refuse to try again. When you’re hurt. When you choose poorly. When you make a mistake. Get up and keep running. It’s going to happen. Many times. But, know there is always hope when you’re moving forward. So learn how to fail forward and be better tomorrow than you were today.
11. Dream big. Change the world.
You can be anything you want to be. You can and will change the world. Find your passion. Find what it is that you must do – your calling in life – and work tireless towards that for years to come. Dream big. Take more steps than you ever thought were possible. Shoot for the stars.
12. You will always be loved because you are our world.
You and your brother truly are our whole world. You always will be. There’s nothing in this world that can ever change that. So don’t be anxious about today. Be confident facing life tomorrow.
Your day is here. It’s time for us to let go. As your bus begins to pull away, dream big. Stay strong. Always be you.
It’s time for you to fly. We love you, our precious angel.
We believe in you,
Mommy & Daddy