Small Act, Big Impact
One of my girls walked into my classroom this afternoon, and I noticed she was wearing a heart-shaped Post-It. When I asked her why she was wearing it, she took it off and showed it to me.
“It’s a note from my mom,” she said. “She writes me one every morning before I leave for school.”
Every morning? I asked her.
“Yup. She writes them for my brother, too. And on Tuesdays, my mom and my dad both write us notes.”
I looked down at the note and read the brief, simple message written in perfect mom-script:
“My darling ______,
You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are kind.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
Every morning you get a note like this? I asked her. Really? Every day?
She nodded. “I mean, it’s not the same exact thing every day, but it’s pretty much the same message,” she explained.
I teach in a relatively affluent area, and I’m no stranger to hearing my kids’ parents sing their praises or blindly jump to their defense at the drop of a hat. Where other teachers crave more parent involvement, I’ve occasionally found myself wishing for less (this is a rarity, but it happens). And while today’s Post-It incident may seem like just another helicopter parent praising her child just for merely existing, at least on the outside, I have to say that I viewed it differently.
Because this student is beautiful.
Because she is intelligent.
Because she is kind.
Above all, she knows these things about herself, and she embraces them. Not in a cocky or obnoxious or bratty way, but in a confident-and-mature-beyond-her-years way. She is passionate and driven. She is loyal and hard-working. She has a wonderful sense of humor and compassion for others. I also taught her older brother a few years ago, and he shared all of these same exact traits.
I’m sure much more has gone into the development of these children than merely a Post-It note stuck into their agenda every morning before school; I’m not so naive to believe otherwise. But I can’t help but think what an impact that daily affirmation of love has done for them on top of everything else.
When Nick and I started dating back in college, we would leave a Post-It for each other every morning. I’d leave one on my way out (I was up way early to do my student teaching), and I would come home to one from him in return. Sometimes they’d be simple (a big heart, or a smiley face, XO), sometimes they’d be reminders (“Dinner at my place tonight,” “Meet you on campus at 4“), and other times they’d be sweet (you don’t need to hear those, right? ; ) ). Coming home to that note used to be one of my favorite parts of the day—no matter how brief or small or insignificant, those notes were daily reminders that I was loved.
Now that we’re long distance, Nick and I start every week day with an email. On busy days, they’re quick notes just to say good morning and to wish each other a good day. Other times, they cover everything from what we have on the agenda for the day, to what we dreamed about the night before, to where we want to go for our date during our next visit. Just as with the Post-Its, these emails are a bright spot in my morning, a reminder that someone has taken the time to check in with me, and to tell me that I am cared for.
I know these ideas aren’t revolutionary, not even close. But as simple as they may be, they are a reminder that, even amidst the craziness that is every day life, with all of its stress and chaos and uncertainty, the smallest acts have the biggest impact. It’s a reminder I needed this week and was very, very happy to get.