The weeks before school starts always feel a little bit schizophrenic to me.
I want the routine, but I don't want the routine.
I want the kids home, but I also want them OUT of my house for the day.
I want the vacations and the pool days, but I don't want the mounds of laundry and moldy pool bags.
I love the loud house and laughter, but I also crave hours of peace to get work done without being interrupted by "I’m bored." (Which is basically a cuss word in our house.)
Even though I have radar jam and a little anxiety of all the things I need to do to get my kids somewhat prepared for school like: school supplies (whatever happened to a few notebooks, a pencil, and some paper?) Pants that aren't capris for my son, new lunch boxes that aren't full of last year's molded strawberries, and preparing my mind for early wake-up calls and the constant, morning convos:
"Eat your breakfast, get your socks on, yes, they have to match. Yes, I know you brushed your teeth last night, that doesn’t count, which is followed by hurry, hurry.”
Even though I might have anxiety about those type of things, my dreams for my kids are always the same when school starts. Our conversations are still the same because of one lunchbox note that changed our life.
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 outloud 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 in an old grocery sack, 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 said this:
BE STRONG. PROTECT THE WEAK. LOVE EVERYONE.
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 hearts and our lives.
This note has been all around the country. We have since made it our family mission and now 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 – all printed by a local homeless shelter – but has also driven our passion to inspire other families to 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 ask our kids what this phrase lived out would look like in their world?
BE STRONG. PROTECT THE WEAK. LOVE EVERYONE.
What does it look like in my son’s 4th grade classroom, lunchroom, sports field?
How can my 1st grade daughter use her strength to protect and love her precious peers?
What if thousands of kids showed up at their schools with the same message in their lunchboxes, on their chests, 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 a lonely kid 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___________.
I'm a dreamer as you can see, and I see a world of potential for our new school year.
For all of us.
It brings me to tears to think about what our world could be if we lived our lives on behalf of one another and taught our children to do the same.
Will you dream big with me for your kids?
This napkin note changed our lives and we hope when lived out it changes others too.