With all of the furor going on about whether the President of the United States should be “allowed” to address the students of our nation as they go back to school, to offer them encouragement in their scholarly endeavors, I’ve heard and read all kinds of variations on a theme:
“What can HE say that I can’t say to my own kids?”
Listening to the speech, I heard a lot of things that I have said myself to my own kids. Things like, “There is no excuse for not trying.” Or, “The truth is, being successful is hard.” Or, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength — because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and that then allows you to learn something new.”
But here’s the thing: I’m just Mom. I know that some day, the things that I have said to my children will resonate with them, but right now, I’m just Mom, who makes them scoop the cat box and make their beds and set the table every night.
I’m not so far removed from my own adolescence that I don’t remember brushing off my own parents, though reflecting now, many of the things they said that I didn’t take seriously at the time resonate greatly.
When you have someone like the President of the United States say directly to kids, “You have to do your part, too,” it rings a little louder, a little clearer, in the here and now.
This is the kind of message that kids need to hear from people OTHER than their parents, too. This is a message that kids need to hear from all over, so that they GET the message: they are important, not only in the context of their own families, but in the context of the future of their country and the world itself. That what they do, their choices, matter, right now.
“What’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say about what all of you did for this country?”