I wake this morning and lay in bed thinking words. I’ve been dreaming words all night. And numbers.
I dress, come downstairs and open the windows, feel fresh begin to fill the house with its dirty floors and flip flops scattered like leaves.
The September calendar on the dry erase board is blank. Sici and I plan to fill it today, and I will accept the filled boxes as only part of what this month will be.
So much I don’t know. So much I can’t make happen.
We have a bonus day off today before school starts tomorrow, and I can feel the ready pushing edges. Part of me wishes we’d just start and be off to the races. More of me feels glad for one last day to prep our backpacks, sit in the grass, start the day slow and easy, give extra squeezes.
Yesterday Michael, the girls and I ate ice cream and played at the park together, and the girls looked so big. J flew from the monkey bars with fearlessness and panache, Sici ably threw the foam Texas Tech football with her dad. Lala nearly overflowed the baby swing before she returned to her usual big girl swinging spot.
I captured the way Lala said seesaw, tongue thrusting through teeth on the s’s. I thought about where she’d gotten that — seesaw, and not teeter totter. I’m glad she says seesaw.
We saw a mama and her boy — dear people we know from school — and talked about expectations and learning styles and transitions. The things we can know and the things we won’t until we’re sitting in the classroom, next to those kids, with the teacher speaking from the front of the room.
Last week, I read an open letter from Glennon Merton of Momastery to her kids. It’s a letter that she shares with them in some variation each year, talking about a rejected little boy named Adam — a boy she wished she’d befriended. Really, do go read the letter. It’s amazing.
Her words reminded me of a second grade girl named Sheila, who smelled like potty, and who didn’t have friends. Sheila’s blond hair was impossibly frizzy. She was taller than normal, and her clothes never fit right.
On a long car ride to visit my childhood friends and their kids, this letter inspired me to tell my girls about Sheila. How I was afraid of being too close to the girl who smelled bad. How I was just nice enough, but didn’t go out of my way to defend her or befriend her.
I didn’t know what to do, but maybe I could have smiled at her more. Asked her to play. Made her an extra nice valentine. Said, “I like your shirt.”
I wish I’d been less fearful of what I didn’t know. I wish I’d spoken up for what I did.
My girls’ eyes held unblinking, big and wide, in the rearview mirror as I told them about what Sheila’s life might have been. We don’t know. We just don’t know, I said. So many on the inside, but all of us know what it’s like to feel outside. Make it your job to help bring people in.
We are put on this world to love God and to share that love with others. So, I want you to give your best to math and writing (especially writing), but most important, I told them, I want you to give love.
So much we don’t know on the cusp of this year, but we who know love — we’ve got to give it away.