Last week was a long week for our two oldest children. It was standardized testing week. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). The kids had segments every day except for Friday and were worn out by the end of the week. Each of their classes had parties on Friday to celebrate their accomplishments. Our son had a pizza party, and our daughter had a movie party. So from their perspectives, it was all worth the effort in the end!
Prior to testing week, our daughter’s teacher sent an email to all of the parents asking if we would consider writing a note of encouragement to our child each day during ITBS. She asked us to write the notes ahead of time and send them in a sealed envelope with her name on it to school the Friday before testing began. Her plan was to distribute the notes each morning after the 8:15 bell rang to give the kids a word of encouragement before each test. What a great idea!
Kory and I have known for years about the power of a note written from parent to child. Like almost everything else we do as parents, note writing is something we learned in a parenting class and, for years, we took it very seriously. In fact, we used to tuck notes into our children’s lunch boxes on a weekly basis. And we used to regularly leave notes in dry erase marker on the mirrors in their bathrooms to surprise them when they came home from school.
Words of encouragement regarding a struggle.
Words of praise to celebrate an accomplishment.
Words of affirmation to acknowledge a good deed.
And sometimes simply words of love.
On occasion, we would draw a picture or decorate the note. And oftentimes, we would include a Bible verse for them to read.
But then we moved. And like many other things, we got out of the good habit of note writing. (I’m still amazed at how many bad habits we made and how many good habits we dropped as a result of moving.) So we saw this request from our daughter’s teacher as an excellent exercise to help us resurrect a good habit gone missing.
I went to Target and bought a set of 100 brightly colored blank note cards and matching envelopes. (A token gesture to solidify my commitment to write more notes going forward!) To mix things up a bit and to maximize the surprise factor, instead of writing all the notes ourselves, we decided to enlist some help from my mom (our nanny) and Kory’s cousin Katie (our babysitter). By the end of the week, our daughter received one note from Kory, two notes from me, and one note each from my mom and Katie.
When I picked her up from school on Monday, the first thing she did was thank me for her note! And she wondered out loud if she would get any more notes throughout the week. I was tickled with delight knowing the surprises in store for her each day!
As the week progressed, our daughter doled out more “thank yous” to her note writers. It was obvious she was truly touched by the gesture each day. And over the weekend, I found all of the opened notes tucked away in a special pocket of her book bag. I’m certain, like the sea shells she kept from the beach, she’ll be keeping these notes for a long time.
On Wednesday night, she told me she had a surprise for me. She wouldn’t tell me when the surprise would be unveiled or give me any clues as to what it was. But when I crawled into bed Wednesday night, I found this waiting for me:
A closer look revealed what I’ve known for years. A simple note touches the heart of a child in a special way:
(Note that since the last time I posted something written by my daughter, her spelling, though not perfect, has improved! Not that I’m keeping score. Take that Cyber Bully! I must also confess that I adore how she drops off mid-thought at the end. So typical of my sanguine/otter/fun-loving child that’s always planning the next party in her head!)
Her note made me smile. It warmed my heart. It affirmed our efforts during testing week. It encouraged and built me up. And it helped me understand, from the perspective of the recipient, the power of a simple note. Particularly at the end of a day when I wasn’t feeling too good about myself as a mom.
And that solidified my resolve to get back to the business of writing notes to all our children.
Is there someone in your life that needs a note from you today?