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Lesson Learned - For Both Of Us

Dear Maddie:

Life’s gotten a bit more demanding on you this year; now that you’re in third grade, you’re responsible for a lot more of your daily world, like making sure your ballet shoes are in your dance bag twice a week, or being more independent with your allowance.

Or being in charge of packing your school bag every day.

Yesterday you started to pack your back pack for the day: daily folder, snack, water bottle, lunch bag, and a good book to read in independent study time. As you went to load your bag, you discovered the book you’d left in there over the weekend. “Oh, this is where I left it! It’s such a good book!” you said, and promptly opened it and read a chapter.

After a moment I looked up and saw you, still engrossed in your novel. “C’mon, honey, finish up because we need to go,” I pushed, and you put the book in, zipped up your bag, and walked out the door.

And left your snack, water bottle, and lunch on the counter.

I didn’t realize it right away: first I thought you’d only left your water bottle, and when that was discovered you triumphantly improvised, saying you’d use your lunch water all day and fill it up as needed. Proud of yourself for coping with the problem, you headed inside and I walked home.

And found your water bottle keeping company with the snack and lunch on the counter.

I’ll admit it here: I badly wanted to bring your things to you at school. I truly, truly did. You’d barely touched your breakfast and I knew you’d be starving by morning snack time. I also knew it’d take me five minutes to run everything to the school for you.

But I didn’t.

We talked at the beginning of the school year, and agreed that if you or Cora forget to pack something, I wouldn’t bring it to you at school. The three of us had a clear discussion on that, and as I stared at your mound of forgotten supplies I wished desperately I hadn’t made such a big stink about that whole “you forget it, you suffer the consequences” thing.

But I had, and I couldn’t go back on it. So I sent a quick email to your teacher, asking her to calmly inform you that there was money in your lunch account and you could buy your lunch that day. And then I tried not to think about it.

Baby, I love you very much and want to fix all your problems. But if I do, I’m creating bigger problems down the road. And that’s not helping you at all. And truthfully, it’s best if you learn this now, when what you’ve forgotten is a granola bar and a sandwich, and not six years from now, when it’s a term paper.

But you know the best part about this whole thing? When you came home, you weren’t mad at all. “Baby, I’m so sorry you forgot all your things today,” I said sympathetically while hugging you tight.

“It’s ok, I coped,” you said, and smiled.

You coped! You learned to cope, and that the world didn’t end when you did!

And THEN – at bedtime, as we snuggled, I asked, “What do you want in your lunch tomorrow?”

You looked at me, startled, and said, “I’ll just take what I forgot to bring today. I don’t want to waste food!”

That? Is BIG GIRL talk.

SO proud of you and how you handled it yesterday.


p.s. I made you a fresh sandwich for today – I’ll eat yesterday’s for my lunch instead.


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