Dear Olivia and Evan,
As I opened my eyes this morning, the realization that you will be starting a new school year at a new school today held me hostage for a moment. Today, you embark on yet another new chapter in your young lives, and as we rode the elevator down from the 17th floor I thought of so many things I wanted to say to you. Things I've already covered in the many conversations we've had leading up to this day, but as a mom can't help but feel the urge to repeat in case you didn't hear me the first time.
Floor 16: I wanted to tell you that I know what it's like to be the new kid. I understand the butterflies in your stomach and wondering if you'll make friends. Believe in yourself. I do.
Floor 15: I wanted to tell you I understand worrying about finding your way both physically and socially. You'll spend a lifetime finding your way. Never give up.
Floor 14: I wanted to tell you that sometimes the new kid is at a disadvantage simply because he or she is new, but the very fact that you are the new kid is sometimes an advantage in and of itself. Embrace the adventure.
Floor 13: I wanted to tell you that since you're the new kid, other kids will be drawn to you. Some won't accept you. That's OK, as it will be their loss.
Floor 12: I wanted to tell you to embrace this new experience with a positive outlook, because while it is all strange and a bit scary today, very soon it will all be routine and familiar. It's the circle of life.
Floor 11: I wanted to tell you to try not to look so nervous. Sometimes the simple act of smiling can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. I believe a smile is worth at least that much.
Floor 10: I wanted to tell you that if at any moment today you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, just breathe. You'll be amazed how a couple of deep breaths can help you see things in a whole new light.
Floor 9: I wanted to tell you to remember you only need one good friend. Quality trumps quantity.
Floor 8: I wanted to tell you how my heart is torn between wanting to keep you home with me all day, where I can love you and protect you, and wanting you to go out there and have experiences I can't provide for you. Don't grow up too fast, OK?
Floor 7: I wanted to tell you how I prayed last night that those you cross paths with today will see you as I do... smart, kind, caring, funny, creative. More importantly, I hope you always see yourself as I do.
Floor 6: I wanted to tell you not everyone will have things in common with you. Embrace the differences. They may pleasantly surprise you.
Floor 5: I wanted to tell you to be patient with yourself and others. Time has a way of charting our course from the trivial to the really big stuff.
Floor 4: I wanted to tell you not to be afraid to try something new. That's the beauty of a clean slate.
Floor 3: I wanted to tell you to listen when the teacher speaks, when someone new talks about him- or herself, etc. Listening is one of those skills that will come in handy later in life.
Floor 2: I wanted to tell you to follow instructions when necessary, but also to make sure you always express yourself. It's OK to speak up.
Ground: As we exited the building for our short walk to school, I took each of your hands in mine and said, "Just be yourself, and remember how much I love you. I'll be waiting to hear all about your experiences this afternoon."
I realized that's really all you needed to hear.