Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A letter to tuck in your pocket

One and a half more weeks of holiday and school starts again. You can tell that my two girls' minds are beginning to turn to the new term because sometimes out of nowhere comes a little remark that reveals a hidden iceberg of thoughts and worries.

Katy is going back into year two, her last year at the little local infant school just around the corner. Her year one class has been split into two and she isn't with any of her friends. I held my breath as she handed me the paper, waiting for anguish and gnashing of teeth, but she was philosophical. 

'Mummy, there'll be all those new friends to make.'

What about that. 

I can't tell you how much I admire her. Six years old and fearless in the face of a daunting situation. Of course, she has her insecurities, but in the playground she's relaxed and confident of her own welcome and as a result the other kids want to play with her. How wonderful that is. I would love to be more like that. 

Her big sister, on the other hand, has moments of excitement about going back into year four, but mostly she's apprehensive and as September draws closer I can feel her happy holiday mood slipping a little. Last term didn't go particularly well and the troubles and tears multiplied until we were just nursing her through the last days before the long holiday. It's all been on the back burner but now it's time to turn up the heat again...

I encourage and reassure and comfort and advise, but the bottom line is that they both need to work out what to do to get through school and friendships and so on for themselves. What works for Katy might not work for Elizabeth, and what has worked all along might not always go so well. They are unique little bodies and personalities and neither of them is me. They're not going to handle it as I did (and that's probably a good thing; I made a complete hash of friendships for much of my school career). 

So, I will walk them to school and I'll buoy them up with words of encouragement. I shall tell them that they are warm, kind, beautiful, clever, interesting and fun to be with. I shall advise them on letting others go first, winning and losing with grace and happily playing games suggested by other children even if they feel they have a better idea.  

They have new school uniforms, (rats, socks. Forgot socks) and shiny new shoes. They'll have new haircuts and pencil cases. They'll be as ready as I can make them, but when I've waved goodbye, they'll pretty much have to sort it out for themselves.

Here's what I'd like them to remember:


Beautiful daughter of mine,

You are loved. 

More than you know, you are loved. You are loved by all your family back here at home; by me, watching the clock for school pick up time and anxiously searching out your face in the exodus of children passing through the school doors, and you are loved beyond imagination by your heavenly Father. 

He made you just as you are. He made you deliberately, not accidentally. You were designed by a Master craftsman who never, ever makes mistakes. When He finished making you, my little one, He sat back and smiled, delighted with the little girl He had made. He knows every hair on your head and He sees every breath that you take. He promised a long, long time ago that He would never leave you, and He is always at your side. Even when Mummy goes back home, He walks through those doors right next to you. He sits by you and cheers you on, and He puts His arms around you when things are tough. 

He is so proud of you. We all are, my lovely, but your heavenly Daddy knows the things that we can't know. He knows how fearful you are of new situations and He sees how difficult you find school, sometimes. He understands that now and again things go wrong and He smiles with pride when you don't give up; when you say sorry, when you try again.

You are loved. Let that sink in really deep, my darling, so that you can find that knowledge quickly when you need it. Try to understand those three little words so that they build you up. Things knock you down, sometimes, and I know that you feel fragile and vulnerable at school. It hasn't been easy so far and I know that you're sometimes overwhelmed and uncertain how to handle things. When you're feeling left out or insignificant, remember those three words: you are loved. Remember that you are loved just for who you are, not for anything you can do. That love doesn't falter when things go wrong, or you make a mistake. 

You are loved, all the time, no matter what. Just think: the Creator of the world loves you. He loves you so much that he smiles as He thinks of you. He is delighted with you, just as I am. 

I want to say it again, because I know how easy it is to listen to things but not to really hear them.

Those other girls? The ones that say mean things and hurt your feelings?  Oh, my love, there will always be girls like that. I'm forty-two and still they're around, only now they're at the school gates instead of whispering at the back of the classroom. It's not going to change because you're a year older. It's something that has always been, will always be.

Don't be one of them. I know there will be times when you'll be tempted to try to fit in by laughing with the mean girls; how membership of their circle seems a coveted prize, but don't do it. Friendship acquired at someone else's expense isn't friendship at all, and all too soon it'll be you on the outside again, for truth and companionship aren't built on secrets and sneering, but on compassion and honesty. 

And when you've been rejected or hurt and you want to lash out and hit back; don't. Close your eyes and count to ten, or breathe deeply and walk away, but don't play their game. Jesus taught us to love those that are not our friends. It's hard - even for grown ups - but He told us that we must be kind to those who aren't kind to us. And that means her, my lovely girl. Yes, you know who I mean. The one that you don't see to eye to eye with, and yet part of you longs to be part of her crowd.

Time and time again you've left school with her spiteful words ringing in your ears and before we've even walked home you've had tears on your cheeks because of this girl and her friends. Don't return meanness with meanness, because the momentary satisfaction that it brings quickly evaporates and leaves a guilty residue that only damages you. Better to return spite with kindness. Then you keep your integrity and the whole of heaven rejoices, because it's not an easy thing to do. 

I'm doing my best with that one myself, love, because I hate to see you hurt. Forgiving those that hurt you, even if they're only little themselves - well, I'm doing my best with that too. And one day, when you have children of your own and you know the fierceness of the love that you feel for your baby, you'll know how hard it is.  

Be brave, my little one; the world has plenty of people like her, but more that are not. Don't judge the whole world by the standards of the mean kids.

Seek out the children who are kind to you, who make you laugh, who make you feel happy, and do the same for them. Be a good friend, and you'll find good friends. I pray every day that you will find someone lovely to do life with; a girl who will link arms with you in good times and bad, who'll encourage and comfort and cheer you on. But until you find her, sweetheart, don't give up. Don't give up on friendship, or on the other girls, or on yourself. When you find that precious girlfriend who understands you, who accepts you and loves you it will be worth all the troubles. 

Remember, you are loveable. You are precious and unique and special. You are beautiful, inside and out, and you are loved. 

There is no-one like you. Don't compare yourself with anyone, because you don't know what it feels like to be them. Just be yourself. You were created to be you, just where you are right now, surrounded by the people you're with. There is no mistake. It's all in His hands. He's watching over you so, so carefully, and He will keep you safe. 

And I'll help. I'll be there in the morning, waiting by the gates in case you turn around for another wave. I'll be there when you come out, negotiating my own way among the grown up girls who chat and gossip in groups just as they did in this same playground when I was in your shoes. All day my mind will return to you, my lovely, and I'll wonder who you're sitting with in class, whether there'll be anything you like for lunch, who you're playing with in the playground. 

I'll be talking to Jesus about you and asking Him to hold you close, to help you, and He'll be saying to me, 'Don't worry. I've got her.' 

He's got you.  

With love

Mummy


 Linking up with Sabrina and Ruth at 'Letters To...' 
This time we're at Learning (one day at a time) and the prompt was: 'A letter to tuck in your pocket'. 


ruthbadgev2_zpsbb523273

26 comments:

  1. Sounds like you're doing all the right things to me. Now, go and buy socks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Fran.
      Just got back from town. Forgot 'em again.

      Delete
  2. Dear Helen, this is so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes and touched me in a deep place. Without warning, I was a vulnerable little girl again just longing for someone to care for and understand me as I felt lost and alone. How I'd have loved a precious letter like this and a sweetly loving mother like you are. Your girls are so blessed. This is one to treasure indeed. Do save and show them when they are ready to receive it. I have been really affected by it and I'm sure they will be too. Thank you. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Joy, thank you. Thanks for those lovely words and for being so encouraging.

      Delete
  3. Lovely Helen. It's so hard to watch them going through it isn't it? But your letter is beautiful and sums up the things that really matter. Squeeze the juice out of each walk to school with them! Before you know it, they'll be at college and you will have school-gate friends no more (though you may still choose to meet up with them for a coffee and a gossip as I do :)Thank you for your thoughts and all the best for the new term. I wish your daughter was coming into my Year 4 class...I need good writers and it must be in her genes...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, the years are flying past already. Sometimes when there's chaos on a school morning and everything seems so hard - brushing teeth, brushing hair, finding bags, water bottles, books - I try to remember that these days will be over before I know it. It isn't easy to appreciate each moment!
      Thank you! I wish Lizzie was going to be in your class too! She's a lovely little writer. :-)

      Delete
  4. Being a great grandfather, it's sometime difficult to remember what my wife went through, my adult children who have gone through, these same experiences. Thanks for "keeping it real" Helen and knowing that Abba Father is always in their lives even when they don't seem to need mom and dad's counsel and wisdom any longer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mel. So hard when the kids are little to imagine another season where they're gone and your role as a parent (or grandparent!) is so different. Thanks for the reminder.

      Delete
  5. A meaningful way to savour these early years. That balance of gently pushing them out there but being the safety net when they need it is hard to get right isn't it?
    I see the letter being as much to your own heart as it is to them - a two way prayer, lovely.
    Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jo. Yes, it's a prayer for me too. I worry that I'll get that balance wrong and interfere too much, or too little, and I so want to teach them to fight their own battles the right way. Which of us knows the right way?
      Thanks so much for reading.

      Delete
  6. Thanks Helen. Very moving post. I haven't been blessed with children though I always wanted them, but now I try to enjoy other people's, and like to think we all have a share in bringing the next generation up. How I wish all parents had your loving attitude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Keren, thank you. It's definitely a job for more than one (or two) people; such a comfort that the larger Family is sharing in the process of bringing up the little ones. Thank you especially for your kind words and encouragement.

      Delete
  7. Lovely, Helen: my girl is a twin with a brother and sadly they used the walk to school and back to argue and fight for attention... but, as I read how people are moved to tears by others' blogs, I realise we seem to be moved to cynicism by suffering (our own) rather thansofter e rather than softer emotions, which is a really mean characteristic to have since it's not useful or helpful. I always wanted to be closer to the kids, but they were pretty hard to get cuddly with: more gentle and open now they're grown!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Clare. Thanks for reading and taking the trouble to leave a comment.

      Delete
  8. Oh Helen, everyone needs a letter like this one to tuck into our pockets and help us through the day.... I shall be checking my postbox, waiting for mine to arrive.
    You are very special mommy. How ever much you might get wrong (socks??) you understand deeply what is needed.
    Bless you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ian. And thanks for the reminder. Keep forgetting socks.
      Bless you too on the other side of the world.

      Delete
  9. I think your post might be the answer to a question I asked the Lord just this morning! :) I have sent the link to a friend whose little girl is struggling with something at the moment, and I'm sure it will encourage her (and her daughter). Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, how wonderful. Thank you so much for forwarding it, and for letting me know. I do hope it helps.

      Delete
  10. Helen, I read this with tears in my eyes. It is so beautifully written and your love for your children shines through every word. My son woke up from his nap whilst I reading it and it made me think of what's to come for him as he grows up and has to navigate the world of school and relationships. I am so thankful he is not even 1 yet! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sabrina. This parenting thing is hard, isn't it? I'm so glad that I'm not doing it on my own.

      Delete
  11. Such a beautiful letter, Helen :) I felt your love pour out into the hearts of you children. Thank you for sharing it with us. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anita. I'm not always so loving - this is how I'd like it to be, I think. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

      Delete
  12. This is the loveliest thing I've read in a long time, and it echoes my heart for my girls who struggle so often socially. Praying for all of you as school begins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ginger. It breaks your heart, sometimes, doesn't it? Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

      Delete
  13. So lovely!! I hope this week goes well xx

    ReplyDelete



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...