the one about her future friends

It's coming. 

A big, huge, decision is coming. 

This Spring, Luke and I will walk into a school building and sign our oldest up for Kindergarten. I can hardly believe it myself, but it's true. Our "baby" is growing up, and she is so ready.

I'm not ready, but she is. 

As for which school building that is…we still do not know. We talk a lot about it. We weigh the pros and cons of each prospective elementary. We wish we could take a little of this one and a little of that one and just make our own perfect school.

But then that would be called homeschooling. 

And I won't be homeschooling.
No offense to those who do. In fact…I bow down to you.

Really, to me, the school we choose is pretty irrelevant. Noelle is already a smart girl. Yes, the school she attends will help her to reach or perhaps go beyond her potential, but we know that she is smart and going to do fine academically.

What I worry about the most are her future friends. 

Who will they be?
Who will their parents be?

What will be their values?

What about their morals?
Will they have morals?

What will they consider "fun"?

Will they use appropriate language and talk about age-appropriate things?

Will they keep my daughter young and innocent, or will they influence her to grow up a little faster?
I can't handle even the tiniest bit faster, OK?

Whenever we are on the subject of school for Noelle, I stop and say a little prayer for her future friends. I have been blessed by tremendous friendships over the years, and I pray she experiences the same. 

But if I could? I would write a letter to her future friends. 

And it would go a little sumthin' like this.

Dear Future Friends,

Yo wassup homies? <-- That's me trying to be hip. If that's not hip anymore…I will just start with a Hi!

I'm Noelle's Mama. Someday soon, you all will find each other sitting at the same lunch table or in the same reading group or playing hopscotch at recess, and you will become friends. You'll look around and realize that you like spending time together…you like laughing and being silly together…and so it will begin.

Few things in life are more awesome than strong friendships. Friends are your family, outside of family. Friends are the family you get to actually choose. Friends are the family when family can't be there. When I can't be there for her, you will. Eventually, she will probably even choose you to be there for her over me…which simultaneously breaks my heart and soothes my soul at the same time. 

Because friends are so special, it hurts extra bad when a friend is unkind. It stings. It throbs. It aches. So try to avoid being unkind to each other. Invite all the friends to the birthday parties. Invite the girls who you think aren't your friends, too. Just invite everyone. Because being left out and hearing about all the fun after the fact is one of those stinging, throbbing, aching hurts that is really hard to heal. There's nothing to be gained by leaving others out, but you have everything to gain by allowing others in. Like more friends. More laughs. More fun. Just more.

Build each other up. Think of each other like sand castles. Beautiful. Unique. Artfully made. Yet fragile and delicate. Be the hands that lovingly shape each other into bigger, better, more awesome sand castles. Don't be the tide that gradually… and sneakily… wears away little bits of the sand castle until it's a pile of goo on the shore. Be the hands. Not the tide. 

There's strength in numbers. Help each other to make the right decisions. Hold each other accountable. Follow the laws. Refuse to drive until everyone in the car has their seat belts on. Wait until you're 21 to drink alcohol. You know those moms who say "If you're going to drink, do it under my roof?" Yeah, I'm not one of those. So if you're going to drink, I'm going to tell your parents. Don't smoke anything, ever.

Tell her if she has food in her teeth or if her skirt is tucked into her tights. Be gentle about it, but tell her. You'll want to know that, too. Defend her if someone talks bad about her. Tell her if you think she's out of line. 

Be ridiculously silly. Laugh so hard that you pee yourself. Make inside jokes and secret handshakes. Play in the rain. Eat too many Oreos. Call me at 2 am and ask me if my refrigerator is running. I'd rather you do that than call me at 2 am to tell me there's been an accident. But if any of you are in trouble, even if it is 2 am, call me.

And then I'll call your parents.

Cheer for each other. Cry for each other. Be loyal to each other. Whether you're the "cool" girls or the "silly" girls or the "popular" girls or the "quiet" girls…I don't care.

Just be kind, loyal, strong girls.

With love, 
Noelle's Mama

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