‘Twas the night before school and all through the house not a child was stirring not even my preschooler. (To be honest I just put him to bed for the third time.) Its 0 days. No more days to prepare. Its – as my kids say – go time.
Today we had our last and final Back to School Chat and this one I felt the most when talking with my kids because its about the new kid, the kid who stands alone, the kid who sits all by himself on the swing watching the other kids play, the girl who watches all the chit chat and business on the first day of school while she sits at her desk biting her nails. Its that kid. I was one of those kids once – the new kid in school. My kids have been the new kid too – and I want them to remember what it was like or more precisely what it felt like to both be on the outside and also to receive a small kindness from another child.
So we took some time tonight to talk about making new friends. (I pointed out that our friend Todd Parr even put it on his BTS list!) Our discussion centered on extending ourselves and taking a risk for the sake of someone who needs a kindness tomorrow. We talked about open eyes and sensitive hearts and not being overwhelmed by our own desires to locate and connect with old friends while overlooking a new one. While my kids may feel nervous, excited, anxious – they already know someone. When they smile someone they know will smile back or call their name. Imagine how the new kid feels.
To be honest, as an adult I often have this conversation with myself at school meetings, friendly gatherings or yes, even at church on Sunday morning. I have to remind myself that warm hospitality is a gift I can bestow upon anyone, not just those I know. And yes, I told my children, it is easier to find old friends and spend the day in comfort with the ones you know, but then we would miss out on all the fun of a new friend. New friends bring new conversation, new interests, and new life to an otherwise already known experience. Don’t miss out.
So with a prayer for their safety and a reminder to learn all they can I also pray for open hearts to initiate, invite and include a new someone tomorrow that will pay back in spades. “Make a new friend!” I’ll remind them as they head out the door, and when I close the door on this first day of school I’ll quietly mumble something about thanking me later as I pour my latte and finally, after a long summer, put my feet up.
Happy First Day of School!