I love the idea of family back-to-school dinners and themes. I saw this in two places: on Nie Nie’s blog here and on my sister-in-law’s blog here. Both of their posts are 1,000 percent prettier than what you’re going to see here, so go check them out. One day, I’ll learn how to make my world pretty, but until then, I have other people’s blogs to stalk.
On the night before school, we planned a special dinner (Nachos… we’re so gourmet. But it’s a definite crowd pleaser for the 6 and under.) and decorated the table with homemade place-mats made by Lydia, a pretty tablecloth, and candles. We drank sparkling cider out of fancy glasses and just enjoyed a fun celebration.
Then, we had a special family meeting where we told Lydia we were going to introduce our theme for the year.
As Lydia has been getting ready for school, I’ve been having painful flashbacks to the times I didn’t stand up for somebody when I should have. There was a boy in 4th grade who walked around the fence of the playground by himself day after day. I felt bad, and I knew him from church, but I still didn’t extend a friendly hand to invite him to join our group. He was a boy, and he was a year older than me, so I justified it away. I still can’t get his lonely walk out of my head. There was the openly gay couple in high school who was mocked by one of the most popular boys as they passed by him holding hands. I knew I should say something, but I buried my head in my locker, afraid the aggressor would turn his taunts to me if I did.
I don’t want Lydia to be afraid to say something, afraid to be a friend.
So I was going to simply copy my sister-in-law, Vanessa’s, idea from 2011: “Jesus Said Love Everyone.” (It’s a great one too. Check it out.) I thought we could really focus this year on how to be a friend, how to be willing to stand up for somebody.
But Lydia is like me. She’s shy at first, unsure of herself when placed in front of people. It occurred to me that stressing the important, but difficult, message of reaching out and being a friend to all at this point in her life would perhaps be placing more pressure on her individual personality at this early point of developing social skills.
Instead, I realized we need to help her see her value. We need to help her see she is loved and cared for, and then we need to step back and help her connect her own dots to understand that because she is so loved, she can be a friend to all.
So our theme for the year is “I am a Child of God.”
We framed two prints with that saying, wrapped them up, and gave them to Lydia and Emma to open. The girls quickly demanded we hang the prints in their rooms. Every Monday we will have a lesson or activity that helps build on the theme. “I am a child of God, and He sent me to a family.” “I am a child of God, and He loves me.” “I am a Child of God, and He gave us this Earth.” And so on.
We also gave the girls pink journals to record their feelings after our lessons. Emma’s (2) will be full of scribbles, but I’m excited to see how Lydia develops through the year.
I think she’s off to a good start. The first page of her journal says in her own spelling and messy handwriting, “I am a hcild ov God. Pipl well want to be mi frend.”
Dots… get ready to start connecting.