Today was my son’s first day of second grade.
Last year, when he was in first grade, I watched him begin the transition from LITTLE boy, to BIG KID.
Little boys are still completely innocent. They have no interest in impressing their peers. They aren’t trying to be cool. They think the “B Word” is “butt” and the “F word” is “fart”. They mostly just want to please YOU, and you, by far, are still their primary influence.
Big Kids though…they start to learn stuff. They start to try on a few new choice words for size. Being cool matters, and they are very much influenced by whoever it is at school that they perceive as being so.
This trend is only going to continue, and increase. I am very aware of the fact that when it comes to my son, both my time with him, as well as my influence, is going to become smaller, and his time with the kids at school, and THEIR influence, is going to become exponentially larger.
So as the end of summer began to approach, I began thinking through What Kind of Kid I Want My Kid to Be, and How to Make Sure He Is That Way. The WEEK before school began, I began to curse myself for not having had more and better and lengthier conversations throughout the summer regarding character, and kindness, and godliness, and integrity. Is it too late to throw some charts together? Memorize some more verses? Read some books??
Last NIGHT, on the Eve of the First Day of School, almost in a panic, I plowed into the game room unexpectedly, told my son to shut off his Xbox, and insisted that he come sit on the couch with me.
“Son, let’s talk about What Kind of Kid I Want You to Be”.
(Eye rolls, sighs, “but I was just about to score”, commence)
“Now you sit right here, and hold my hands, and look at me” (You’d think he was leaving for college the next day. Hey, sometimes you gotta be dramatic to make them pay attention)
“Buddy, first of all, I want you to remember that there are ALWAYS going to be kids at school that other people don’t pay any attention to. Pay attention to them. Don’t ever let someone feel like no one notices them at all. There’s also going to be kids that other people are mean to. Maybe they look different or talk different or just ARE different. When no one else is being nice to them, I want YOU to be the kind of kid that is nice to them. I don’t EVER want to hear about you being a bully. You will be in SO MUCH TROUBLE if you are ever a bully.
(I know, mom. I DON’T do that.)
“KEEP not doing it. It will get harder, because sometimes people think it helps make them look cool or funny, to be mean to other people. You are going to want to feel cool and funny, so you may want to join them. But remember, you already ARE cool and funny. You don’t need to do anything different.”
(yeah, last year I was pretty much the coolest and funniest kid in my class.)
“Ok well anyway, that was the first thing. Next, I want you be the kind of kid that cares more about what God says, than what anyone else says. So first you have to know what God says. Then you have to do it. And by the way, what He says may be different than what your friends say. You need to not care about that. That’s going to get harder and harder, too. He’s right though, and they may be wrong. ”
“Next. You’re a leader. So I want you to be the kind of kid that leads people the right way, not the wrong way. You are a lot like your dad. People will do what you say, probably. So don’t lead them to do wrong things. You have this really awesome opportunity to lead them to do RIGHT things, and that’s the whole reason God made you a leader.”
“I want you to be the kind of kid that is brave. Don’t you dare be a little weiner.”
(Ha. Weiner. Weiner like…this? [shakes weiner around]
“Put that away. But yes..don’t be a little weiner. You know what little weiners do? They are scared to do the right thing, when it’s hard. They are scared to tell the truth, when it’s hard. There’s nothing worse than a wimpy little weiner kid. I want you to be the kind of kid that stands up for what’s right. Even if people make fun of you. I want you to be the kind of kid that tells the truth, even if it means you get in trouble. You just be brave. Instead of lying, you can say something like, “Here’s the deal. I did this thing. It wasn’t good, and I’m sorry, but I did it. There’s the truth”. That’s brave and admirable and COOL, and it keeps you from being a weiner. ”
(I don’t really fib all THAT much, he says)
“I want you to be the kind of kid that is respectful to your teacher. You make her life easier, not harder, each day. You listen and obey. Be a gentleman. Hold the door open for her. Offer to carry things for her. Tell her she looks nice. Be a gentleman”
“Now last but not least…if kids are looking at weird and gross and inappropriate crap on their phones or iPads, you look the other way. I mean it. You have to protect your eyes, because what you look at goes into your brain, and it can really mess you up. So you just stay away from kids with phones. Ok?”
Ok. Now go to bed, dammit. Don’t you realize that all day , I’ve been internally celebrating the the fact that, with school back in session, bedtime can now justifiably occur at 7:00 again.
New Girl and a glass of wine awaits me.
I’m gonna miss you tomorrow, bud. Don’t be a weiner.