Note from a Preschooler (picture 1,000 circular scribbles on a giant piece of paper that is presented to the recipient with care and anticipation.)
Shannie: “Mom, I wrote you a note!”
Mom: “Thanks, Shannie,. What does it say?”
Shannie: “You know I can’t read. You need to read it to me.”
This is the part that causes the problem. I have absolutely no idea what she was thinking when she wrote this, umm, note. And so it continues…
Mom: “Dear Mom, thanks for making me breakfast and…”
Shannie: (interrupting) “That’s not what it says mommy.”
Mom: “Okay, what does it say then?”
Shannie: (rolling her eyes) “I can’t read!”
Mom: (trying again) “Dear Mom, today I had a lot of fun doing puzzles…”
Shannie: (exasperated) “MOM! that’s not what it says!”
Mom: “Okay, can you remember what you wrote?”
Shannie: (almost in tears) “Just read it!”
Mom: (deep breath) “Dear Mom. Is that part right?”
Mom: “Today I danced with princes and rode purple ponies through the wildflowers in the most beautiful part of the world. (Shannie nods) I met fairies, and magical creatures.”
Shannie: “Only nice magical creatures.”
Mom: “Ok. Today I met fairies and only nice magical creatures.”
Shannie: “But there’s more. (pointing 1/2 way down the scribble page) Right here.”
Mom: “On my way home I met a nice queen who traded me a sparkly horse for my purple pony; it made me very happy.”
Shannie: (nodding again) “And then we had dinner. The end.”
Mom: “Oh, I’m glad you remembered that part.”
I wish to remember every single one of these precious stories. Now, almost 4 years later we rarely talk about magical creatures, and purple sparkly anything. Shannon is still quite a dreamer, but now her notes are of a more practical nature.
Note from a 7 year old (a notebook–or paper folder 45 times–written with nearly coherent words with a definite point and sometimes a full color illustration.)
A few months ago my dear friend, Amy, gave me this notebook and a few instructions.
· Start small
· Ask questions
· Draw pictures
· Make it fun
Nearly every evening I find this little notebook neatly tucked under my pillow. In it are the sweet notes from mother to daughter and daughter to mother. Our topics began with ‘What’s your favorite color?’ and ‘What is your favorite TV show?’. More recently the questions range from the very serious ’What was your saddest day ever?’ to the hilarious ‘What was your nickname in school?’. (I heard her snort/laugh when I wrote that “Bubbles” was my nickname for many years, because I blew a giant snot bubble out of my nose during a middle school choir concert. Let’s just keep that among ourselves. K? – Thanks!)
These notes, whether silly or serious, are creating intentional moments for us to share. As Amy so wisely knew, we are giving them opportunities to reach us now, when the reach is short and the questions are simple. So later, when the reach is far and the questions are embarrassing or impossible, the safe door has been propped open. We mommas and daddies are the best allies our little people have. I intend to give my daughter every opportunity to engage in a relationship with me, her most invested supporter.
Note from an adult (a bulleted to-do list or email, most likely detailing something I did wrong or forgot to do altogether.)
My mom is not an avid note writer. In all my childhood memories it is definitely my dad who did all the writing. But this year, for Lent, my mom sent us a note. Its simplicity was beautiful. It was undoubtedly my mother’s heart poured onto paper in a gentle kind and gracious way. My husband and I were equally touched by the thoughtfulness and honesty. My mom and I have shared these same words hundreds of times in person. She is not fearful of “I love you” or ‘I’m proud of you,” but to read those words of encouragement and pride in a note? It was magical!
Clearly, I need to start note writing with my grown up friends and family. Perhaps not real letters in the mail, because let’s be honest, they will likely never end up in the mailbox. But maybe a Facebook message, an e-mail, a quick text “Hello,” or a Post-It note on the microwave. It is possible that with a little note we can reach across the expanse of time and distance and really connect with each other. In fact, it could be transformational. Maybe note writing can still be magical.
*This post was written for my weekly series called “Making It to Monday” on AlmaBlog.