For my first day of first grade, my mom purchased and read to me the book Grover Goes to School by Dan Elliott. I was a Sesame Street fan, and this tale of Grover's desire to make friends and please people even if it meant giving away his favorite new school supplies rang true with me at the time. The copyright on it is 1982.
Fast forward a few decades, and I was reading this book to my daughter before her first day of school. It became a ritual at the start of every school year.
This year, though, she surprised me by asking about a week before school starts if we would be reading the book this year. I left it up to her. I get that Grover may not be the best way to start junior high.
I'll admit to being pleased that she said she was up for continuing this first day of school tradition.
As I read Grover Goes to School this year, the story about the furry blue monster being so eager to make friends that he was wiling to trade a new crayons for a broken truck or clean up for his friends while they got to enjoy snack time, with disaster results, took on new meaning. I realized that the messages in this small little book about are valuable at any age, including:
- things and possessions are not a good basis for a friendship;
- friendship is a two-way street;
- it is not necessary to clean up other people's messes;
- it is okay to say no;
- moms give great advice, the best of which here is "Just be yourself . . . You are very lovable."
I think every child, of any age, can benefit from hearing those words, on the first day of school and on a lot of other days. Maybe this is another way that middle schoolers and kindergarteners are very similar. Tweens, especially, benefit from hearing that.
At a time when their body is changing, their friends are changing, they feel like their identities are changing daily, they need to know that your love is a constant that does not change.
This time, though, I also realized just how much parents can benefit from remembering how lovable they are. We don't need to buy our kids every gadget or make sure that they have the latest this or the coolest that. Doing their chores will not engender lasting respect. Having expectations is okay. They may not let on, but our kids also find us to be very lovable.
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