Today is a weird day. It’s the first day of sixth grade. You’re in a new school and there will be lots of new people around you for the first time in so many years. Recently mama and I were talking about the first day of school plans and as usual I’m taking you, and while we were talking mama said something that made me catch my breath:
“You only have three more times to take her to school on the first day. Then I’ll take her with me.”
I’ve been the luckiest sissy in the whole world because I’ve gotten to be there with you on every first day and every last day. You are my life’s greatest treasure so it’s an honor to be with you on these days, but mama’s right. Just three more left.
One. You are my number one girl. And we’ve got three more years of first days, so let’s get this first day of sixth grade started.
Middle school is hard, sister. Girls get mean and catty and I hope and pray with all of my heart that you will be spared and protected from that hurt, but I know you might not be. This morning as I drop you off, I am praying that your classmates are kind to you, and that if they aren’t, you are still kind to them. As your sister, it’s been a privilege watching you grow up into a tender, kind-hearted, compassionate girl, and I hope that your first day of middle school — and this entire year, in fact — are chances for you to showcase that heart of yours. If you are kind, you will be successful, no matter what happens. And I am so hopeful for you because your ooze genuine kindness.
Yesterday we took a sister date and had breakfast at IHOP. As we were leaving, we started talking about middle school and I read you the quote below and said it was all I hoped for you in middle school — that you would stand up for those being bullied because you have before. And you told me how you fit in with so many groups in elementary school, the popular kids and the geeks and the nerds and the sporty kids and the boys and the girls. I felt my heart tighten and loosen and I told you, “You have great influence in those groups. You can be a bridge-builder between people. That is such a cool thing to be able to do.” And it’s true. Being able to cross those boundary lines will serve you well as you begin middle school. I can’t wait to watch you create new friend groups and unite people.
I see you embracing others. I see you giving them your kindness. And I know you’ll get to practice it every day.
If I could just tell you a single thing this morning, on the first day of sixth grade, I would tell you this: Be you, because you are superb. You really, truly are. You laugh at yourself. You possess a confidence I envy. Your smile brightens up every room. You know the words to a billion songs. You kiss your dogs and make goofy voices and you do crafts and you love to read books. You love funky hair colors and you’re a tomboy and Harry Potter crazy. I love you with all of my heart and I wouldn’t want to see you anything but the exact way you are.
I said it before and I want to say it again — whatever you do today and in the year to come, I ask of you one thing: Be you, because you are superb. I read that in an awesome book and it’s never been more true than when I look in your face. You radiate love and hope and humor and so much more. You have an infectious giggle and you march to your own drumbeat. You’re confident in who you are — you are authentic at an age where authenticity is beginning to fade. Oh sister. I beg you, remain true to yourself.
That drumbeat is all your own. Don’t let the world slow it down, or stop it all together, or steal it from you and try to make it their own, or change the way it beats. That’s your choice and no one else’s. I love the sound and rhythm you make. So do mama and daddy man. Your drumbeat is the music to our ears. If you sacrificed that special unique and authentic part of you for anything else, I think my heart might explode from sadness.
I will love you for a thousand years, and then a thousand more, and then a thousand more… a thousand thousands, a million millions. On this first day of sixth grade, I pray with my entire being that you know that love.
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All quotes taken from the “Dear Kids” chapter from the book For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, which releases today (8.18.15). I’ll be posting every day this week about it so please come by to read a more thorough review, and stop by on Friday to win a copy of the book yourself. You can purchase the book today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD