I want you to be yourself
Today’s guest letter comes from Chris Wiley, father of Lilah (3) and Norah (10 months). Chris resides in Chandler, Arizona with his wife, Rachel.
You started school last week. You know that, but what you don’t know about this new chapter in your life is this: While school is nothing but exciting to you, it is terrifying to your mom and me.
Okay, it is a little bit exciting for us, too… and sad, because we have to face the fact that you are not going to stay our little girl forever. Exciting because you’re so smart and ready for it… but mostly terrifying..
While your only concern is which water bottle to take- Minnie Mouse or Rapunzel (which is a tough choice at 3, and I recommend Rapunzel, by the way), your mom and I wonder if you’re going to share, or do what you do with your little sister (force her to give you what you want by distracting her with something shiny, then snatching it away). Are you going to participate in class and remain seated on your assigned “apple” on the rug, or are you going to decide you want a different apple and scooch over when no one is paying attention to take someone else’s? Are you going to try and trade away your mayo, mustard, cheese and pickle sandwich that you ask me to make you at lunch? Most important- are you abiding by the UN’s Pre-K Fair Trade Agreement and not scamming some poor kid into giving you their Snack Pack, but instead trading away an equal portion of market priced dolphin-friendly tuna?
Ultimately, we worry that you will be, well… like me.
I was not always the best student, participant, classmate or friend. I was kind of (okay, not kind of) a jerk for some of my schooling. Rather than being content with myself, I needed to be cool and accepted – even if it meant liking things I didn’t really like and being interested in things I had no interest in. It meant picking on and teasing people just for being different and liking things that were lame – even though I actually thought those lame things were cool – like Pogs. Sometimes, it was about the rung they sat upon in economic ladder of life – and, you can bet I never told anyone that I used to be a poor kid from the other side of the tracks who didn’t get new pants every new school year, and often times looked like I was awaiting a flood. I did things just to get a laugh, or a high-five from people I called friends. It didn’t matter what the expense was. Just the other day I was watching Sharknado and the same jerk I’m describing to you started thinking about how I could reenact it by throwing goldfish at you girls while we ran around the house, but that isn’t who I am anymore. Also, we didn’t have any Goldfish.
Here is a list of things that I hope you’ll consider throughout your school career:
Remember that your mom and I will always provide you with everything you NEED. There is a difference between WANTS and NEEDS, and you will struggle understanding that (at times I do, too). I want you to befriend the little boy who sits alone at lunch because everyone teases him about his pants being too short, and wearing the same shirt twice in the same week (probably because it’s his favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt).
You don’t have to eat peanut butter and jelly just because Jessica, or whoever the popular girl that all the other kids swoon over does. You eat your mayonnaise, mustard, cheese and pickle sandwich like it is the greatest thing anyone has ever tasted, and when someone gives you grief, offer them a bite. Try to help them expand their world and open their mind. If they refuse, it’s their loss. That sandwich is delicious.
When someone is shy, don’t judge them. Go and say hi to them. You already do this in dance class – but, sometimes it’s different in school. They may be intimidated by, or just not like large crowds – especially when everyone is staring. However, they may certainly enjoy a quiet conversation with a sweet friend. And, they could be super duper smart and be able to help with your math homework that your mom and I can’t.
Above all else – I want you to be yourself. Your-dancing-excited-friendly- funnyfacemaking-huggy-personable-self. And, while it may not always be what’s hip with the in-crowd and the Billboard Top 20 (most of it sounds like someone auto-tuning my ten year old sister and her friend’s text messages anyway) you’ll be true to yourself and will have better, and closer relationships. Err… the “friends only” kind of relationships… because that’s all there is until you’re thirty.