To my fifth graders…

I think as humans we all feel that sometimes we are just not making a difference the way we are supposed to. I know some of you already feel that way at such a young age. Guess what? I feel like that at times, too.

So here is a little secret, one some of you may know, and one some may not care to read. The secret: you have made a difference to and in me.

You see, I was born into a military family; I moved every few years and besides having to start over at a new school many times (elementary, middle, and high school), I was never able to watch people grow up. A friend at school may become a big sister, but I would never get to see that child grow. I wouldn’t get to experience middle school or high school graduation with the same children I learned to read with. In a sense, I never got to develop a history or a future with many people that I still care about. That is one reason I am so invested in all of you.

I have had the beautiful privilege of being able to finally live somewhere long enough to watch people grow up. To not only be a witness of change and growth, but an active participant. What an honor it has been! Some of you I will always embarrass by reminding you that I changed your diaper when you were a baby and rocked you to sleep when your eyes got too heavy. Others I have lived through the tantrum years of preschool while staring you down in timeout. I have had the pleasure of sitting in squeaky chairs at school plays, recitals, and pageants. I have watched many a soccer, basketball, and baseball game. I have judged Awana Grand Prixs and have heard more jumbled Bible verses as my tired hand signed off on another chapter of verse books over the years. I have even worn cowboy boots while however many months pregnant to look the part at a pig show. Many of you were there on the day of my wedding and the days I gave birth to my own children. Together we have laughed, cried, and prayed for years, even years before you could remember my name on a weekly basis. We have played silly games and I, to this day, wonder if any of you told your families we played a rigorous game of soccer one Easter in the trees (before they were cut down) where a few of you sported some grass stains and scraped knees in family pictures after church!

Some of you come from broken homes and confide such sadness in me in between worship songs, while some of you come from a lifelong rock of stability. Truth is, I love you all. Yes, even the smelly boys and the dramatic girls. You will all have a special place in my heart for years to come. While some of you have begged us to continue to move up in age (groups) right along with you, I wonder if some would like a fresh start? Middle school just may be the toughest years you will ever have to face, so just know that I will always be in your corner. I am not your mother, but I am a mother. I may have my own children (who you are all so wonderful with and many keep up with via Facebook), but you all gave me the practice I needed without ever knowing. Like I said, I am not your mother, nor will I ever go against her, but I will always be available to talk to you, I will give you the hard advice you need, and I will be truthful on these (for lack of a better word) icky topics we will soon encounter in middle school. (Seriously, do you all have to grow up so quickly?!) When my own two are teenagers, you better believe I will have some wonderful experiences to fall back and reflect on. When my two are teenagers, maybe you will be in the position that I am now. (If you are, be sure to tell them how wonderful I am and that I am cool. Right?)

My point is, a weekly basis where I only get a few hours with you to try and impart some kind of faith, a little passion, a dose of strength as you continue to grow and change before my very eyes is not enough to fully make a difference, but thankfully The Lord has given me years of watching you change and grow. Until you all, all those years ago, I had never been able to be a part of something like that on this level, so thank you.

Remember, childhood does not last forever, and in memories, it is so much more than you can realize now. I am proud of you all and I know that whichever middle school you go to and whoever you befriend there, you will make the wise choice.

If you don’t, I’m still in your corner. 

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